We all know that Jesus spoke in parables. Many historians, however, believe he behaved in parables as well. Perhaps, then, his final acts were really his final parable, the one that contained all the rest and proved that they were more than mere stories. Here is my attempt to render that final parable in words:
There was a man who trusted God. He taught people that they could live lives free of care, because God was always smiling on them. They need not enslave themselves to their society’s system, for the sake of its fickle and superficial rewards. They could simply rest on God’s care, knowing that even if the system offered them poverty, exclusion, and degradation, God offered them life.
Quite naturally, those in charge of the system wanted this man silenced. So they brought soldiers to kill him. When the soldiers struck him on the right cheek, he offered them the other. When they took both his coat and his shirt, he gave them gladly. When they forced him to carry a heavy burden, he did so willingly. He was not anxious about his life, for he trusted that God would care for him as God cared for the birds of the sky and the lilies of the field. So when they asked for his life, he didn’t try to hang onto it. He freely gave it. He did exactly what he had taught people to do.
Meanwhile, the people turned against him. His followers fled and wept. The authorities finished the job. His voice was silenced, his promising ministry cut short. It was hard not to believe what many were saying, that God had cursed him. In the end, this inspired preacher turned out to be a beautiful loser.
Or so it seemed, for this was not the end. It was soon discovered that his tomb was empty. His followers began having experiences of him, in which he was lit with joy and completely unharmed. From out of thin air he would appear, and explain to them that everything he taught them was true, that God is life and only life.