The kingdom of heaven is like a beautiful golden statue, intricately carved by the best artist, adorned with wondrous jewels, mistakenly thrown into a large refuse pile. A garbage man, putting garbage into the heap, saw the statue and entered into the pile in order to pick up the statue and clean it off. Once the filth was washed off the statue, the garbage man rejoiced in what he had found and showed it to all of his friends.
The beautiful statue is the image and likeness within each and every one of us. Its beautiful, pristine state was never destroyed, only covered up by the mire of sin. Jesus is the garbage man; he willingly empties himself of all his glory as the Word of God became man, entering, as it were, into the world, the trash heap created by the sin of humanity.
Jesus is the garbage man; as he entered into the trash heap of the world, the filth and mire of the world was all around him and upon him because he came into the world to restore the glorious image of God covered up by human sin. Removing all the trash of sin from humanity, he was able to throw it back into the refuse heap to where it belonged, taking with him, the beautiful restored humanity so that he could show its exquisite nature off to all who would be his friend.
Jesus is the garbage man. Our sins are but refuse. Jesus, the noble and bountiful lord of all, willingly lowered himself into trash heap, letting the dirt of the trash be placed upon himself as he bore the burden of our sins and took it away from us. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2Cor. 5:21 RSV). For our sake, he entered into the mire, let it touch him, let himself become one with the trash though he was himself not any of the trash, so that the good within can be revealed:
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed (1Peter 2:23-4 RSV).
Jesus was reviled as he lowered himself and humbled himself before all; he who is Lord of all became the garbage man, the lowest of the low in appearances, performing the greatest service of love for the whole of creation. He suffered humiliation as the trash came upon him but he bore it all patiently; our sins, the mire on the glorious statue, came upon him as he lifted us out of the pit, but then he was able purify the statue and himself in the glorious resurrection, letting all that mire rinse off and return to the place suited for it.Jesus is the garbage man. He became like us to show us how we have willingly let ourselves dwell in the mire, hiding our glorious nature from ourselves. Deep within each sinner the image of God remained. That beautiful core could be covered up and defiled but it could not be destroyed.
We ourselves put ourselves, willingly, into the mire; once there, found ourselves stuck in it, incapable of getting out and cleansing ourselves from its taint; it required Jesus to come in it with us, to lift us up, cleansing us from all the filth which covered us up, liberating us from the trash heap, so that we can once again see the glory of God reflected within ourselves.
The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, `Lo, here it is!’ or `There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you. (Lk. 17:20b-21 RSV)
God’s kingdom is implanted in us in our creation. God’s kingdom is found in the image and likeness of God within each and everyone of us. We are not to look for it apart from ourselves. We are not to seek it in some spiritual realm outside of the body, outside of our very lives. We do not have to wait for it, it is already here, now, within us.
Jesus came as a garbage man to reveal this to ourselves. The kingdom of God is within. Seek and you shall find. Look within and you will find it is always with you. Look within, see the beauty of God within, see what has been covered up by all that trash. Let all that filth be taken off of us and put into the flames of the fiery trash pit of hell, so that God can be revealed. The kingdom of God is not only what we were created for, but it is our very nature as well.
[Image=Jakarta slum life by Jonathan McIntosh [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], from Wikimedia Commons]
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