I’ve never been to Rio de Janeiro. But I’ve seen the picture. You know the one. It’s the famous “Christ the Redeemer” statue that overlooks the city.
It’s 130 feet high. The wingspan is 63 feet. And the head is 9 feet tall! Those who’ve seen it in person marvel at its majesty. Author Max Lucado says the first time he saw the magnificent Cristo Redenter two things caught his eye through the telephoto lens of his camera.
The sculptor left the eyes blind. No pupils. No circles around the openings. Nothing to suggest sight. Secondly, he saw that on the cloak of the statue is a very simple heart shape. Like a Valentine’s heart.
Lucado writes, “The unintended symbolism staggered me.” You get it? Think about it. Blind eyes. And a heart of stone. Max asks, “What kind of Redeemer is this?” His answer? “Exactly the kind of redeemer most people have.”
He writes that some folks have a “Rabbit’s Foot Redeemer.” Or an “Aladdin’s Lamp Redeemer.” And others a “Monty Hall Redeemer.”
Some look at Christ like a four-leaf clover. A good luck charm. “His specialty? Getting you out of a jam. Need a parking place? Rub the redeemer. Need help on a quiz? Pull out the rabbit’s foot.”
Many today see Jesus as the answer to every material desire. “New jobs. Pink Cadillacs. New and improved spouses. Your wish is his command.” Of course, when he’s granted your wishes, put him back in the lamp. You don’t need Him around.
And for still others Jesus is the “Monty Hall Redeemer.” “All right, Jesus, let’s make a deal. For fifty-two Sundays a year…. I’ll endure any sermon you throw at me. In exchange, you give me the grace behind pearly gate number three.”
What a twisted view of Christ! What a materialistic mind-set of the Messiah! What a perverted perspective of the Redeemer’s work! Yet, “Christ came unto his own. And his own received him not” (John 1:11) Why? Because they were looking for the wrong Redeemer! He went against their preconceived notions of the Messiah. They were looking for the “Joshua Solomon” Redeemer! Huh?
You know the military general who would marshal an army. Mobilize a revolt against Rome. Defeat their political enemies. And lead them to victory as He restored the promised land. Then sit down to reign on David’s throne!
But they missed it. Badly.
So, that’s why Christ became an obstacle to the Jews. An impediment to their faith. Christ and the cross was foolishness to the Greeks and a stone of stumbling to the Jews. Paul said so.
“…but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumbling block, and unto Gentiles foolishness; but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor 1:23-24)
On that Friday, twenty centuries ago, the Christ that hung on the cross, had a heart of compassion. For you and me. Not a heart of stone. Jesus cared. And God became a man that we might be saved. Love sent him to cross. And kept him there when he could have called legions of angels to release him. And kill his captors.
On Friday, we see that God really loved us. So we should not perish. But could have everlasting life. That’s who our Redeemer is.
Not a heartless or sightless Savior. He saw the masses scattered like sheep with no Shepherd. He saw the promiscuous Samaritan woman. The greed of the publican. The pride of the Pharisee. The hypocrisy of the Priests. And he saw something else.
He saw the weakness of Ken Weliever. His frailty. His feeble attempts at goodness. He said, “Ken, you need a Redeemer!” “A real Redeemer!” And it he says it to you too!
But His work wasn’t finished on Friday. With power, might and splendor, He arose from the dead! Alive! Triumphant! Passionate! His heart beat with a love for the lost, and His eyes envisioned the gospel’s message spread around the world!
That’s my Redeemer! The right Redeemer! The Risen Redeemer!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman