A king came into power, much to the surprise of the previous royal court, and he quickly won the peoples’ hearts. He sought to give justice and to write fair, new laws. He was a kind king, a generous king, who loved the poor, cared for the sick, the elderly, and the young. In fact, he placed their needs above his own, spreading mercy across the land. He became known for equality and liberation.
His name spread far and wide. His rallies drew thousands upon thousands, and the people hung on his every word. They travel miles across the vast countryside to hear him speak, by ship or cart, at great cost to themselves. No distance was too far, no sacrifice too much to get close to him. His word was valuable. His word changed them. They became better for hearing it and continually hungered for more. So large was the press at times that he’d flee into the mountains to find time alone.
It seemed he’d changed the kingdom forever. Freedom spun from his hands. Here was the ruler the people had sought for, a king who finally brought them relief. He’d saved the kingdom. He would increase its borders and expanded its lands. He would fight against their enemies. They need not fear anymore.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Yet, those he’d ousted from power seethed with rage – politicians, religious leaders, and the like. They hated his goodness, hated how he’d stolen the peoples’ hearts. They hated how much power he’d taken from them, and they foamed against the accusations he spoke about their rule. Vipers, he called them. Hypocrites. How dare he say such!
They harassed him on every side. They tried to trip up his words and cause him to misspeak. They smeared his name in public and sought any way they could to make him break their laws. But he was wise, this king. He knew their thoughts. So, instead, they censored his words. If they could keep people from hearing him, they could retain control. If they could remind people who he really was, a carpenter’s son, an average boy from an average town. A nothing. A nobody.
Yet, on every side, their power continued to wane. Worse, he made them look like fools. They set out to ruin him. They’d stage a coup. They’d oust him for good. Whatever it took, whatever underhanded deed they had to do. They’d bribe the criminal, the greedy, and the thief. They’d stage violence across the kingdom. They’d lie if need be. They’d gather together in private and set the whole thing up. No one would know. Who cared if it was ungodly and unjust? Anything it took, they’d see him dead and out of their way for good.
“He was led away after an unjust trial—but who even cared?” (Isaiah 53:8 NET)
“Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away. From this generation, who was there to complain? Who was there to cry ‘Foul’? He was, after all, cut off from the land of the living, Smacked and struck, not on his account, because of how my people (my people!) Disregarded the lines between right and wrong. They snuffed out his life. 9 And when he was dead, he was buried with the disgraced in borrowed space (among the rich), Even though he did no wrong by word or deed.” (Isaiah 53:8-9 VOICE)
They saw him crucified. They saw him whipped and beaten beyond recognition. They rejoiced as he died and laughed at their cleverness. They had won. It was so easy, so simple, and the good king so very weak. They were in power once more. They could line their pockets at the expense of the people again. They could push their ungodly agenda. It didn’t matter that a handful of stupid men knew the truth, a remnant who still believed. Fools. Who were they amongst so many? The greater populace had bought into their deception and called for his death. This was the people’s doing really, not their own.
His closest followers mourned. Their ears rang with the sounds of their beloved king’s destruction. They heard the words he’d called out from the cross, echoing in their minds again and again. They reeled beneath the continued tumult of the populace, now reveling in their nefarious deed. Beneath a dark sky, they cowered together. Evil had conquered. Wickedness had won. They’d forgotten the words of the ancient prophets and even the good king’s own promise.
“Tear this temple down, and I will rebuild it in three days,” he’d said.
They’d believed him then. He was marvelous. Magnificent. Reliable. Trustworthy. But now, he was dead, gone. The tomb had been sealed. Soldiers placed at its guard. Why couldn’t goodness, justice, and equity win for once?
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (John 12:24)
But here’s the thing. When you plant a seed, from all views it is dead. Standing overhead, all the farmer sees is soil. Though there’s life in the seed, for a time, the life isn’t evident. The farmer must believe the seed will do what seeds will do. He must trust within a number of days, the seed will sprout and become a harvest.
These were the words of the king, though they’d forgotten them. They’d forgotten the words of the scrolls that spoke of him.
“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:2-5)
They’d forgotten that, in fact, he’d lived as prophesied, suffered as prophesied, and died as prophesied. They didn’t remember that the king had promised he would also live.
“For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.” (Luke 11:30)
The lyricist sings: “I serve a risen Saviour, He's in the world today. I know that He is living, whatever men may say. I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer. And just the time I need Him He's always near. He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way. He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Salvation to impart. You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.” (“He Lives” by Alfred Henry Ackley, 1887-1960)
He lives. Though they couldn’t see what was happening beneath the soil, though for three days, it was dark and the enemy rejoiced. On that third day, he rose and once more stood as king in the land. He’d beaten the greatest enemy of all, the lord of death. Even better, he gave to them, the few who’d believed his words, the keys to his kingdom. It was theirs now. They were authorized to use it and to pass down the knowledge of him for generations to come.
A King who died, falsely accused and unjustly hung, did the greatest act of all because He loved people so very much. The enemy had his three days to rejoice, but he lost the war forever. His fate is sealed. The writ is published. The triumph is already done.
The lyricist sings: “Encamped along the hills of light, Ye Christian soldiers, rise. And press the battle ere the night shall veil the glowing skies. Against the foe in vales below let all our strength be hurled. Faith is the victory, we know, that overcomes the world. (Chorus) Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory! O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.” (“Faith Is The Victory” words by John H. Yates)
Suzanne D. Williams, Author