The hot dusty streets, covered in trash and heavy with traffic, beat under a relentless sun. Red, blue, pink, green, yellow, orange, and purple—the colors of
This country of millions, with almost as many gods as there are people and more holidays than there are yearly rotations of the earth around the sun, goes about its day as if nothing is different. Sundays are not days of rest here as they are in the West; after all, Christianity is forbidden. They are business days just as any other—that is, unless the shop owners and businessmen observe a particular Hindu holiday at random.
Motorcyclists race past at breakneck speed, recklessly cutting corners and swerving in front of vehicles without care to the order and laws of driving. Cows languish in the already hot sun, chewing sedately with the rhythm of the morning. Camels, donkeys, and horses line the streets and pull carts of their own; other motorized wagons are overloaded with burlap sacks of petrified dung that is to be used for fuel. The sounds of the city fill the air—the insistent honking to indicate right of way, the yelling of those bartering at the market, the conversations of the pedestrians as they transverse the streets. Activity is everywhere; movement fills the air.
A white tent is erected in the middle of a village. Elections will come soon. The landfill has been covered with dirt and then again with carpet, the kind of plastic grass common to putt-putt attractions in the West. Chairs are lined up, empty save for the hopes of those who will fill them in just minutes. For now, the empty tent testifies of what is yet to be.
Minutes down the road, the lane is crowded with people. They wave the flag of
Just kilometers away, in a quiet room, fans circulate the warm air, desperately fighting a losing battle to cool the room. Orphans sit cross legged, barely fidgeting, their high pitched voices raised sweetly in song. A man stands at the front with an emerald green guitar. His eyes are closed and he sings fervently, proclaiming his praise and adoration of the Messiah.
These are the forgotten, the outcasts of
Flies buzz throughout the room, landing on feet and tickling bare necks. Brightly colored silks lay against dark brown skin, highlighting the deep, rich tones of their flesh. Feminine dark hair hides under beautiful shawls and hands wave in adoration. The One they sing of is not welcome in
When He came so long ago, his people almost missed the significance of his short years on earth. They were looking for someone else—a mighty, conquering King, someone to come and deliver the followers of Yahweh from the oppression of a powerful and sometimes cruel government. They wanted freedom, not foreign occupation; celebration instead of crucifixions.
They were a people plagued with exile and slavery, first in the desert and then again in the pagan lands of
For centuries they waited. Heroes made of flesh came; men who did extraordinary things for the people. Their gaze turned not from the impossibility of God to the limitations of man, expecting a carbon copy of what they had seen—only on a grander
scale. This Messiah wouldn’t just help them for a short period of time; He would overthrow the mighty
So they waited. And they looked from one hero to the next, never expecting that their Messiah would be born in a manger surrounded by cattle—that his first breath would be polluted with the fragrant aroma of a stable in full capacity. They didn’t think that the first to bow before this King would be lowly shepherds and they most definitely didn’t expect this King to die on a cross barely three decades later. They wanted the messiah of their own image. But He was no such thing.
Instead of physical beauty, He was unattractive.
Instead of the widespread acceptance of His people, He was ridiculed, persecuted, and crucified according to their demands. Instead of physically overthrowing the government He spent three days in the grave. After He rose again and ascended into heaven, His people were sure that nothing would change. They were under occupation. They were not free. This man who called himself the Son of God could not have been the Messiah. They missed it. They missed him. And two thousand years later they still seek this Messiah, thinking that He is still to come and will finally do what they expected him to do all along.
As the parade marches down the street and music fills the air, the tent in the
Just kilometers down the road, a young orphan bows her head and folds her hands, squeezing her eyes shut. The drum echoes from far away, barely entering the room before being silenced by the whir of the fan. She stands and lifts her voice, proclaiming her belief in the Son of God and her love for Him. She thanks Him for what He has done. For today is the celebration of His death and resurrection, the cornerstone for her belief.
Once again, the outcasts, the lowliest of society, have found Him.
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one form whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Isaiah 53: 2b-6