Easter is where divine love meets human criminality. It is here that crime meets the cross. At the most excruciating part of the Easter story, justice is sandwiched between two thieves. Justice is the fresh ham between two pieces of bad bread. The two pieces of bread look alike outwardly, in that they both are of criminal colour. But a bite reveals that they are inwardly different - one has a repentant taste, the other an arrogant one.
A handful of our national leaders are reflective enough to come home to sense. But the majority are arrogant, do not care to conceal it and even proceed to be proud of the arrogance.
What we are in need of is an Easter generation that prides in humility, reputable people who use their authority to voluntarily pick the shambles sprayed by their predecessors and reassemble them into the Kenyan mosaic that stands out in the world like our world-beating marathoners.
We are suffering a servanthood shortage and a lordship overload. Kenya does not need just another Easter. For our community’s sake, we must not watch Easter go to waste.
For such a time as this, we should receive it as a resource. We do not need an Easter to commemorate, but one we can connect with.
Thankfully, the maadamano ceasefire was granted partly in the name of Easter. We need such an Easter that works. Kenya does not need a Easter that is simply a calendar date – Kenya needs an encounter with the Easter power. We do not need an Easter we only celebrate but one we can tap into. We need more repentant thieves – too many stubborn criminals right now!
At the cross, humans manhandle God. Creation places its creator on the receiving end. The world is uncomfortable with its Lord. People feel they cannot be free as long as God is present. The world would rather kill God.
It is just unfortunate that God cannot die. When He does, it’s because love drives him to death. For no greater love has a man than this – that he will lay down his life for his friend.
In Easter, we see a type of commitment that will not resign. Even though right is subjected to all manner of wrong, it comes shining in the end.
Easter gives a unique kind of hope – one that travels to the furthest future and then returns to the lowest present with good news. Bad times will not last always! The more perceptive eye discerns in the cross not only a victory, but a victorious journey. Even the church that prides in an empty cross must bear in mind that the cross does not represent only the victorious end.
Rather, it represents a journey which has victory as its end. It is in understanding the story that we become truly passionate about the victory.
Thinking of the cross today, no other people connect with it better than the people in pain. People in pain do not only understand the cross, they also feel it because they are on it. To them, Christ on the cross is a comrade to whom they say “Welcome to our world” only for them to hear him say “It is actually my world!” Stuck on a crucifix, the realness and infinity of pain hosts no vocabulary of hope. Death is in their next step.
But then, a whisper from the cross in the middle dares still think paradise! Hallucination? When all abandon, God is supposed to remain. What if it is God who abandons? Hell happens!
Given a chance to choose between a life-giver and a thief, the world wildly and loudly shouts its choice, “Give me evil!”, “Give me deception!”, “Give me death!” God is equally abandoned.
Not even the character who walked on water with Jesus was anywhere to be found. They ran for their lives and left God to fight for his! Judas was running the other way but he choked on his guilt and stumbled to his death. There was not only nowhere to run – he was no longer there to run.
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The judge declares his verdict “I find no crime in this man” yet proceeds to hand him over to criminals. How ironic? But this irony fights its place in the Cristus Paradox, “You, Lord, are both prince and slave.” One would file an appeal to challenge the unfair judgment – until Jesus tells them that that den of thieves was always his destination!
Jesus’ freedom was not in being without chains but in freeing others. Even Barabbas has Jesus to thank! Remember the classic ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina?’ Well this line was preceded way earlier at the cross. Jesus redirected the tears shed for him by telling the weepers, “Don’t cry for me, cry for yourselves.”
A hard cross-pivoted fact is that being good and godly risks frustration and even extermination. To set out as a voice for good is to set oneself up to face forceful voices of evil. Godliness does not expect nice. Good is not cheered. The world routs for the worldly. The cross is an inescapable stopover on the route to goodness and godliness.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He did not have to show up on earth to get to His ascension destination. He had options, bypasses. Upon His resurrection, heaven would have organised a fleet of white horses with a golden chariot to whisk Him away from this wild world. Humanly speaking, He should have avoided earth with a passion.
He should have stayed away from the unthankful lot who rejected Him even after doing so much for them. He should have stayed away from those who hated Him to the extent of killing Him.
But when Jesus rises from the dead, He not only passes by here, but also spends time appearing to his disciples. Unlike our leaders who roll up their tinted windows at the sight of the poor, Easter - with all its mysteriousness - allows curious fingers to touch its resurrection miracle.
The risen Christ does not invite all media houses for a press conference to broadcast His re-entry to reinforce a celebrity status. His coming back to us is a statement to us saying: I’m dead serious about you! The cross is empty! So is the tomb! Their emptiness is our fullness.