The Gospel of John gives us a pretty good example of how to set up an empire… or, for todays world, get elected to public office. With next years election in mind, I thought I would write a quick guide for anyone who wants to run for president…
Step 1: Get baptized by your cousin.
Step 2: Turn water into wine.
Step 3: Go into churches and throw stuff around.
Step 4: Heal people and forgive their sins.
Step 5: Let people follow you around the country until they are starving.
Step 6: Do a magic trick with a kids lunch, multiplying it by the thousands and feed them all.
Step 7: Let the votes roll in as the people elect you King…. or president.
But for Jesus… “knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” [John 6:15]
I wrote last time how it was widely expected the Messiah to lead a revolt against Rome and Israel to liberty. What actually blows my mind is even though it wasn’t his mission Jesus could have actually done it. John 6 tells the story. People were ardently following Jesus; it seems they have even forgot to feed themselves. You all know the story: Jesus see they’re hungry, and decides to teach a lesson in faith, compassion, and even waste management (“Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted,” v. 12). After their fill, the crowd begins to talk and word begins to spread. Like the telephone game in elementary school, “This has GOT to be the Messiah… pass it down…” Excitement builds slowly, but surely, to the point where they can’t even contain it anymore, and simply shout aloud “this is the Prophet who is to come into the world!” From what I understand, John most likely counts only men, of which there are five thousand. More than five thousand people have just punched their ballot for Jesus. If I’m a disciple, I quickly try to become Jesus’ campaign adviser: “Jesus, if you are ever going to assume the throne of Israel, THE TIME IS NOW.” Jesus has been elected, without even campaigning, and he even has the support of five thousand zealous men (the equivalent of a Roman Legion) who are ready for a revolt. The stage is set for Jesus’ acceptance speech… and he walked away…
It was for a time like this that Herod tried to kill him when he was a baby, why the disciples argued who would be greatest in his kingdom, and why Caiaphas explains how it’s better that one man die than for an entire nation to be destroyed.
Yet, Jesus walked away… And to me, that is absolutely amazing.