Monday

Sea Monkeys and the Savior -- Was Jesus a Bait and Switch Artist?



Bait and Switch – you know the technique.  A company or a salesman promises one thing and after you’ve signed on the dotted line, substitutes an inferior product .  When I was ten years old, I fell victim to a bait and switch scam.  I saw an ad for Sea Monkeys in the back of a children’s magazine.  “Wonders of the Sea!”  “Fascinating to Watch,” and “Hatch Before Your Very Eyes!” were some of the phrases used to describe this “New Pet of the 20th Century.”  I had to have a family of Sea Monkeys for myself.  The “Just Add Water” part should have clued me in that all was not as it seemed, but I was young and naïve.  And I had an allowance burning a hole in my pocket.
So I ordered my family of Sea Monkeys.  Back in the day, there was no such thing as overnight shipping.  I had to wait the required 6-8 weeks for delivery.  I began checking the mailbox daily after four weeks. It wouldn’t do to have my Sea Monkeys sitting in a cold Rhode Island mailbox any longer than necessary.
You can imagine the rest of the story.  When the Sea Monkeys finally came, I carefully followed the instructions for how to begin their long and happy life.  The end result was that I had reconstituted a bunch of microscopic shrimp eggs that grew into “monkeys” so small I needed a magnifying glass to see them.  They bore no resemblance to the monkeys shown in the advertisement.  I learned my first Economics lesson – Caveat Emptor -- “Let the Buyer Beware.”  I was the victim of a Bait and Switch scheme.
The Jews of Jesus’ day felt that they had fallen victim to a Bait and Switch Scheme.  Two thousand years of prophecy had promised a Messiah, and it appeared He had come at last.  The initial reports sounded promising.  The word of mouth advertising seemed to back them up.  “Heals Hundreds!” “Raises Man from the Dead, ”Puts Local Authorities in Their Places,” and “Feeds 5,000 at One Sitting!” 
At long last, the promised deliverer had come.  Thousands eagerly signed on and welcomed their soon-to-be conquering King into the city with shouts of “Hosanna!  Hosanna!  Blessed is the King Who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Five days later the same voices who hailed Christ as their long-awaited deliverer were raising their voices again – this time with shouts of “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”
What caused this fickle crowd to turn on Christ in the days between the Passover celebration and the day we now know as Good Friday?  They felt like they had fallen victim to a Bait and Switch scheme.  When God promised them He would send a Deliverer to save His people, they assumed he meant a military deliverer. One who would emancipate them, once and for all, from the oppression they suffered as a captive nation.  Their bonds would be broken; they would  finally be free.
And then Jesus was crucified.
Bait and Switch.
No Deliverer.
No Emancipator.
No King.
As believers in Christ, we know the rest of the story.  We know about the resurrection.  We know that Christ WAS our deliverer.  He was our emancipator.  He is our King.  Not in the temporary, military sense, but in the eternal, forever sense.
But sometimes we, too, are guilty of suspecting a Bait and Switch scheme.  When Jesus promises “I am come that you might have abundant life,” we never expect that abundant life might include cancer.  Or a difficult marriage.  Or financial troubles.  Or a wayward child. 
We skip over the verse that says “In this world, you will have tribulation.”  It doesn’t fit our model of Jesus as our Deliverer.  When difficulties come, and they will, for God’s word is true even if we skip over the parts we don’t like, we feel misled.  Disappointed.  Cheated.  Oh, we may not yell “Crucify Him,” with the crowds in Jerusalem, but we wonder just the same.  Did I misunderstand Jesus?
It is then that the truths of scripture can speak loudest to our hearts if we have ears to hear.  “In this world you WILL have tribulation . . . . . but be of good cheer, for I have OVERCOME THE WORLD.”   
He didn’t come to make us comfortable.
He came to make us holy.
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us. . . “(Romans 8:18)
This world is not all that there is, and God’s promises ARE true. 
He IS our Deliverer.
He IS our Emancipator.
He IS our King.
“Hosanna!  Blessed is the King Who comes in the name of the Lord!”

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