Jesus’ Marketing Strategy

Let’s try a change of pace … let’s talk marketing and business. As your eyes glaze, and your finger poises to click to the next page, may I beg your indulgence, just for a moment?

There’s a term I have heard a few times, which I ran through Wikipedia as I was writing this. It’s “creative disruption”, and the gurus describe it as “… a phrase that has been used in the marketing world … to describe the desired break in existing patterns of behaviour of the target audience in response to a highly creative message.”

This is, of course, about advertising, about selling stuff. I want to apply it, briefly, to Jesus’ ministry in John’s Gospel; specifically to the five great narratives which traverse the gospel itself. A Pharisee, Nicodemus, meets Jesus in the dark; a Samaritan woman greets Jesus at midday; a blind man moves from darkness to light; a dead man, Lazarus, moves from death’s darkness to life; and Pilate meets Jesus in history’s darkest hour.

At each event, Jesus disrupts everything we know. People can’t be re-born; outcasts can’t be welcomed; blind people can’t see; dead people don’t come alive; the truth is shaped by Caesar’s hands, and not by an itinerant preacher.

Perhaps the last is most relevant at this moment. We know how the world works; it is shaped by those who have power and money and voice, not by those who have none.

Pilate asks the prisoner Jesus, “What is truth?”

As we watch the machinations of the American empire and the divorce and probable decline of its European and British cousins, we know that truth is ordered by those who have tweets in their hands and obsequious media at their feet. Scientific and historic knowledge are held to ridicule by those who have little, or none, and statements recorded yesterday are denied today. What – where – is truth?

Here we stand, with the itinerant one, numbered with outcasts and criminals. And because we stand here, we assert a truth which disrupts everything – creation and history alike. Death, and blindness, and darkness, and despair are never beyond the healing resolve of God. Our hope in this life, and in the one which awaits us, is that God’s love disrupts it all and creates a truth for which we hunger and thirst.

This creation urges us to live forgiveness, to embody justice, to welcome the stranger and to confront the powerful. It is not true that death is the last word; the truth is found in Jesus Christ, whose word and love returned life to Lazarus.

As long as hatred stifles truth and freedom is betrayed by fear,

we stand with Christ; give us no peace till his peace reigns in triumph here.

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