What if Jesus came back today? What if he just showed up on the street, unaccompanied by brilliant lights and blaring trumpets. Any city, USA, it really doesn’t matter where.
Let’s dress him in some clothes that will make him blend in ... a pair of blue jeans, maybe; a Polo shirt, and just for authenticity, let's give him a pair of sandals and a close-cropped beard and some shoulder-length brown hair.
It wouldn’t be long before Jesus picked up a newspaper. And in it, he would read about a man proclaiming to be one of his spokesmen, and how that man had ordered the assassination of a Venezuelan leader. The next day, he’d pick up another paper in another town and see that that same man had taken back his hit on the South American president, but instead of apologizing and asking for forgiveness, Jesus would read that his representative had said that he had only been taken out of context.
Jesus would then turn on the radio and hear men and women alike blaming everything wrong with the world on those who oppose their views, most especially those left of center. And their speech would be filled with hate and they would espouse the necessity of wars and Jesus would, no doubt, be left scratching his head.
Jesus would flick on the TV next and hear people screaming about how peace is not the answer, that through these wars killing is the only way to save America's interests.
He would likely soon learn about the devastation of Katrina and then he could listen to people arguing about whose fault it was and then he would hear other people arguing that it was a race thing and had the people of New Orleans been more white, the government would have responded quicker.
And then Jesus (being Jesus) would pick up the phone and call Pat Robertson and say, "No killing .... thou shalt not, remember? Peace is the answer. Turn the other cheek. REMEMBER?" he would plead.
And then Jesus would hang up and dial Rush Limbaugh and tell him, "No, no more talk of hate. No more lives lost. No more dignity diminished. Peace, don’t you remember what I said? You can still read about it if you've forgotten."
And then he would plead with the terrorists and say to them, "No, no more ... no more killing in the name of my Father."
And then Jesus would brush aside the rage and walk into New Orleans and help the people who need it most, white, black or spotted. And there he would be loved and cried upon, thanked and adored.
But if he called Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh and the terrorists and told them all "No, no more killing, no more advocating violence, we need to practice what I set forth in the beginning" what would come next? What would happen if a bearded, jeans- and sandal-wearing stranger walked down the street calling for peace? He would be run out of town, labeled a freak and a hippie and a liberal peacenik, and life would go on, and we would have missed our chance to make ourselves a better people.
If Jesus came back today, there is one thing for certain ... he would have his work cut out for him.
And if it were left to us mere mortals and sinners to make our future decisions based on what this stranger had recommended to us, we would fail. And Jesus would be ridiculed, laughed at, spat upon, crucified.
Just like in the beginning.
Have we really learned anything?