Heel – the term for the villain in professional wrestling.
Jacob – grasped at the heel of his brother Esau, tricked his brother out of the rights of the firstborn, wrestled with God
It might be a stretch but Jacob cheated his way through much of his life. His tricky tactics brought Him places, until He wrestled with God and God changed his name to Israel. After that Jacob turned face (another wrestling term for the good guy).
Heels in wrestling cheat, they jeer at their opponents and the crowd. But there is a phenomenon in the last 20 years or so where the heels of pro-wrestling are cheered and celebrated.
As much as I can and love to talk about wrestling, that’s not why I’m here. I’m here because Good Friday is one week away.
I love Good Friday for the irony that we call a day good in which the perfect son of God, Jesus, was crucified. We call it that because of the implications of what His later resurrection meant for humanity. Follow me, I’m going somewhere, I promise.
What got Him to the cross was a few villains, a betrayer that once was a friend, a religious stable that was blind to the reality of God, and finally a crowd that became antagonistic. A crowd that asked for a heel in Barabbas to be free in place of Jesus.
The crowd compelled Pilate to turn Jesus over to be crucified and as God would design in a divine mystery the Son of God became sin so that in Him, we, the crowd of villains, might become the righteousness of God.
The serpent struck Jesus’ heel dealing him death only for Him to rise again and smash the serpent’s head.
If you haven’t noticed the crowds lately, no matter how loud, they rarely cry out for genuine justice because they don’t know it.
They rarely recognize truth and will often turn their back on things like compassion and mercy to get their way. And even in the moments where a cause is genuinely worthy, there is often so much vitriol and baggage with it that it feels more toxic than enticing.
It’s sometimes feels that the cry for justice is a mask that allows for the ridicule of those we disagree with or have been hurt by.
The reason I’m not a protester is not because I don’t care, it’s because I know the crowd. What the crowd needs is the Christ not a cause. We need mercy if we must march. We need a loving gospel more than a loud gong.
You can sound an alarm whether there is a fire or not. The difference lies in who is pulling people out of the flames.
Jesus does that by extending His hand not grasping at heels.