By the time that Jesus was taken down from the cross on that first Good Friday
a whole pile of KPIs – Key Performance Indicators – had been achieved
and success had been determined and measured and probably celebrated.
Jesus was a trouble maker for the occupying Roman leaders
He was now gone and his followers had scattered
As the newsletter cartoon by Leunig points out:
The collaborative Jewish leaders had been nervous of two things
that this blaspheming teacher would lead the nation astray
and that his presence was threatening to the Romans
As the scriptures say and Caiaphas in Superstar sang
For the sake of the nation this Jesus must die.
By the appropriate measurements of success, success had been achieved.
It was popular. It was achievable. It was effective. It was over.
“Jesus must die” Easy T shirt slogan.
You could almost campaign on it.
The problem is that when it comes to KPI’s
when it comes to measurements of success
God seems to work with different sorts of measurements.
The resurrection is the stamp of approval on the way of Jesus
The resurrection doesn’t so much make sense of Jesus death
as it makes sense of Jesus’ life.
Our measurements of success may be
that if we are the last one standing in a conflict, we win.
Jesus’ life says that if you live by the sword,
you condemn yourself to dying the same way
God’s stamp of approval is on the way of peace
Our measurements of success may be
that strong and healthy life is determined by income, GDP, wealth.
Jesus’ life says we can find our true selves
in the giving away of possessions and finance
and celebrating with those who do not have what we have
God’s stamp of approval is on the way of generosity
Our measurements of success may be that we win
if boats stop crossing the ocean
and we deter people from fleeing persecution and coming to us
Jesus life says that we are to welcome those who are the outcast
and provide care for the widow, the orphan and the refugee.
And God’s stamp of approval is on the way of welcome.
The resurrection of Jesus echoes God’s condemnation
on every injustice, oppression and cruelty
and God’s stamp of approval on each and every
act of welcome, justice, love and grace.
It is the sign and promise that the way of God is of justice freedom and peace.
Because Christ is risen we will never give up on the pursuit of justice,
on the pursuit of freedom, on the way of peace
Because Christ is risen, we will look for, act with and celebrate
the welcome of others, the offering of grace, the restoration of relationships
and the offering of dignity to those who have been denied it.
Because Christ is risen, we need not lose heart when we see,
and when we live among,
signs of cruelty, oppression, separation, segregation, isolation.
Whatever the likelihood of immediate success in one or other struggle
Because of Christ’s resurrection we can and will continue
Because the resurrection is the sign which says
that the measurements of success which we see and hear so often
are no more valid than the measurements of success
set by Pilate, and the Roman Empire,
and Caiaphas and the Jewish collaborators.
Each act of welcome, each act of grace, each act of justice, each act of inclusion
is an echo of the sound of the stone rolling from the tomb
Each word of peace, each word of love
is an echo of the sounds of the women on that first day
when in joyous disbelief, they whispered “he is risen”
Listen for the echoes of resurrection
and sound your own echoes as you live.
We need not – and will not as people of the resurrection –
live by the measurements of success we hear so often.
Easter has changed life’s KPIs and we do not need to turn back
Thanks for part of the inspiration in this message to the President of the UCA, Rev Prof Andrew Dutney in his 2014 Easter Message