These days we are living in, I can’t help but think of the zealot and a tax collector who were both invited by the same man to be a part of an inner circle of brothers. This man wanted both of them, equally and distinctly, to join with him on his mission. How could it be then, that these two men, along with ten others, each with their own agendas, political position, and opposing personal allegiance could be brought together to form such a potent commitment to one another and the mission they were given to accomplish? Was it as simple as being unified out of human effort or persuasion? Or just being able to understand better the other’s values and viewpoint? By no means! Anyone can see, simply by watching our current day’s situation, where pride and arrogance, selfishness, misunderstanding or even hatred can impede and derail. No, a match as unlikely and radical as this could only be unified by a purpose more radical and revolutionary. A purpose whose keys to unlock it were held only by the man who called the two men, wanted them to be with him, in the first place.
This man, Jesus, lived by different rules, spoke of a different Kingdom where up was down and down, up. He didn’t play the same petty games as the men he called. Didn’t bow down or fawn and weep over another whose very flesh and bones were just dust. He didn’t vie for approval or influence. No man held sway over him. But HE, he carried at his very core, the way to life and unity. His words carried the pungency to both unsettle and bring peace all at once. And it was only he who was given the power and the authority to both crumble AND rebuild the hearts of men so blinded by their own sinful toxicity. The power to change lives was his and his alone because he himself, for the sake of the two, and the ten others, and the millions after, he himself was crushed, bruised, beaten, humiliated. He himself lowered himself, chose not to stick up for himself, not to protect his own rights so that those given over to the world might be given the way to new rights. New rights not found in the world but in the new Kingdom of which He, Jesus, is King.
This King carries the entry to a new citizenship, a unified allegiance. A citizenship that bids each who are called by name to no longer resemble that which they once held fast, but rather, like the one who holds the keys, to come and die. To be crumbled and rebuilt just as he was crushed and resurrected. It was this way, the hard and afflicted way that brought two called ones, who began so very opposite from one another, to be restored as brothers. It was not by their own might but rather by the power of the One who made himself nothing, becoming a servant for all mankind, never once caring for his own self-preservation or promotion, but rather always walking in humble submission to the One who sent him to earth.
You see, the way to healing, of mending, and of the greatest unifying will never be man made. It can never be rooted in efforts born out of our hurt or offense. It never comes from actions that draw attention or self-praise. The way to a whole and beautiful humanity as it was intended is simply, Jesus. Jesus as King, Jesus as Savior. Jesus as Rescuer. Jesus as Healer. Jesus as Judge. Jesus as Advocate. Jesus as Servant. Jesus as Friend and Brother. Jesus as Sustainer. Just. Jesus.
And so while I consider the two disciples, one a tax collector working for Rome and one a zealot working to destroy it, I am drawn to wonder. Wonder what it was like for them. Wonder how painful it was at first for them, how difficult to give up so much of themselves for what seemed so risky. And yet I wonder what it was like for them when they began to be changed. When they began to see how truly fulfilling it was to cast their own rights aside, their own dreams and desires and mission to join with the only one that matters in eternity. The one that has the greatest ripple effect known to man. The mission of Jesus. The mission of bent knees, bowed heads, washed feet, bloodied brows, and resurrected life. That is our mission. That is our way to healing. That is our way to unity. It is Jesus. He alone. He is the Way.