The used car had been turned upside down and rested on its hood at the front of the dealership lot. The sign painted on its side read "Flip-Out Event". Obviously the new franchise owner wanted to seize the attention of passers-by with something that was way out of the ordinary. Winter months had been lean months, and now the lot was full of new models and the promise of unusually good deals. This had to work in a disappointing economy. The dealer wanted us to know that he would do back flips to get the business.
Resorting to the outrageous to make a point.
At this season we are reminded of an event that was outrageous and quite topsy-turvy. Righteousness was called foul. Compassion was called disorderly. Wisdom was called madness. Peace-making was called sedition. Humility was called threatening. Christ was called a criminal and a servant of Satan.
It is meant to grab us and upset us as we observe the strange grouping around Calvary. The bogus justice. The religion without God's heart. The fickle crowd who had exchanged their "Hosannas" for "Crucify him. Give us Barabbus!". The Governor who had allowed himself to be ruled by the mob. Giggling, gambling soldiers on death duty.
If man is ever to leave this insanity, he must have a change of heart. The natural man continues to be disgusted by weakness and suffering. He must drive it from his sight. If it takes a few dollars in the name of charity, so be it. He rushes to comply with the dark advertised standard. He sees merit in cynicism and a "me first" attitude. But Jesus had predicted, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
His prediction is proving true, and more so as the perfect day approaches.
But I find no desperation presently in the message of God. Save that for the struggling car salesman. God said His piece, and it remains sovereign after two millenia. Things will only be rightly adjusted through repentance and an honest confession similar to that offered by the thief at Jesus' side:
"Lord, you have done nothing wrong. I am the malefactor here. Yet you are praying for my forgiveness. Yet you wish no ill to anyone. Please be merciful. Please remember me as you enter into your Kingdom."
Here was the only one who saw through that insanity. Who commended Jesus in His Passion. To him Paradise had been opened.
No catechism. No First Communion. No water baptism. Just a broken and contrite heart and an honest and appreciative look at a spotless Saviour.