Today marks 44 years ago that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. succumbed to an assassin’s bullet. He galvanized a movement that brought change of great proportions to many people. We’re all, to some extent beneficiaries of his fight for justice. Today he is celebrated as a great man of peace.
Then there is J. F. Kennedy the 35th President of the United States, whose assassination was as much a surprise as it was a shock to many. He was a man of vision whose leadership began to shape the then new world with some significant changes in the history of the US and the world.
And how can anyone forget the likes of Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, the revered Indian Leader whose conviction about fighting the imperial British power with his non-violent civil disobedience brought their rule to a halt, spurring world-wide movements for civil rights and freedom.
Ironically, on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, as the American Civil War was drawing to a close, the President of United States, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. His leadership successfully saw the coming together of a once deeply divided union.
These are all historical events that occurred and are recorded with chilling accuracy. What baffles me is why these courageous leaders lost their lives. One answer among many, seems to be the most fitting. The one thing common was that, they PASSIONATELY pursued a higher cause — an insatiable thirst to see their fellow humans live in greater freedoms.
The currency of their passion was their blood. Their passion did not die with them though. It traversed the corridors of many generations and still inspires many to this day. They are remembered for their selfless sacrifices that have made an indelible mark on humanity on a grand scale.
But the profound of all deaths to this day, is the death of an unassuming man whose birth occurred under very complex circumstances. Born to a modest Jewish carpenter, and a perplexed young mother who never ‘slept’ with any man but became pregnant, he boldly claimed he was the Son of God. His simple life was punctuated by teachings that challenged the status quo and miracles that soundly put David Copperfield’s illusions to shame.
A little over 2000 years ago his claim and a life that challenged the then religious establishment, and rocked the political foundations of the Roman Empire led to his eventual brutal ‘assassination’ of sorts.
His passion was to see the entire human race free. By his death he created a pathway back to the only true God. This is the passion of all passions.
This week we remember why He was killed. Unlike the other leaders who are still dead, something else happened that makes his death on the cross one of a kind. To get into that now will be a whole journey into a different subject. For now, lets stick with He is not dead anymore.
That he died is no longer a historical debate. The real reason he died is that which holds deep marvels, but also tremendous power for liberty, once the skepticism is put to rest.
This week is celebrated by many beneficiaries of the His sacrifice as the Passion of Christ Week. It will culminate with the feasting on bunny-looking chocolates, peeps, and the hunting of colored eggs, some real and others plastic. In other cultures many will celebrate with delicious meals, new outfits and melodious songs recounting the story of an old rugged cross.
But isn’t there more reason than these festivities?
I invite you to gaze – maybe for the first time – into the maze of life through the lens of the man who was passionate enough to die for all humanity. It will set you on a journey of freedom never known before.
You might even begin thinking differently.
I dare you to gaze!