|Three security personnel|
I had no idea any of this was taking place until my cousin posted pictures on facebook. She's a Lido Island resident and witnessed the event. She said that when it was all over, it took two weeks for her and her neighbors to recover from all the excitement and activity. I can only imagine.
I was reminded of this event when I read Luke 3 the other day, which tells how John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus' coming. However, John's preparations didn't include security personnel, city shuttles, or getting anyone in their Sunday best. After all, Jesus wasn't a king of Nazareth or Jerusalem or the Jews. He was the King of Heaven. So John's preparations looked different.
John urged people to clean up their hearts instead of their towns. He urged them to repent and be baptized because: "The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:9 NIV)
But here's the strange thing. When Jesus showed up, he didn't wield an ax or throw people in the fire. I think this is what the Israelites were hoping the Messiah to do, but instead Jesus healed and forgave sins. Jesus also taught, not like the religious leaders who cited this authority and that scripture. Jesus taught like he was the final authority on religious matters. And this annoyed the religious leaders to no end.
"How dare this Jesus act like he knows what God wants! How dare he say we aren't measuring up! Who does he think he is!?"
I recall reading a book awhile back. I wish I could remember the title of it. It contained stories of various people who lived in West Germany during the Cold War. One of the stories explained how a town prepared for some government leader to drive through. The prep included painting the lower half of the buildings because that was all this dignitary was going to see through his car window. The prep team purposefully hid the town's poverty and starvation and hopelessness so this particular leader wouldn't see the actual effects of his government on its people.
This seems rather similar to what the religious leaders were doing to their flock of sheep. They taught the people how to look righteous on the outside. "Behave! Follow these rules and do lots of holy things!" And the leaders enforced their religious standards with threats of excommunication. However, by doing this, they miscommunicated God's expectations to the people. God didn't just want people who looked holy but who actually were holy.
So Jesus said:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! . . . on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (Matt. 23:27-28 NIV)
And John in preparing the way for Jesus said,
You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. (Luke 3:7 NIV)See, the only way for people to prepare for Heaven's King is by having a good heart that produces good fruit. John the Baptist tried to explain what that looked like, and Jesus expounded even further. In fact, Jesus showed us what that looked like by doing it himself. His whole life was a sort of judgement on mankind because it showed us all the ways we weren't doing it right.