By Ben Cachiaras
In the 1983 film A Christmas Story, a precocious boy named Ralphie is haunted on his daily trek from school by a big, mean bully named Scott Farcus. He lurks in alleyways, terrorizing the younger members of the neighborhood by taunting, chasing, and worst of all, twisting their arms behind their backs until they scream, “Uncle.”
One day Ralphie is particularly dispirited as he shuffles home from school. He’s gotten a bad grade and has been told he won’t get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas because “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
It’s a bad day for a kid. Moping along, spirits sagging, the bully corners him and begins to pick and tease. But this day, Ralphie has had enough. Something inside him snaps. In a rage, he turns and runs at the bully, driving him to the ground. Sitting on top of him, he punches the older boy’s face repeatedly with flying fists. The neighbor kids gasp and stare as the bully whimpers beneath Ralphie’s fury—until a parent comes by to break things up.
Every one of us has felt what Ralphie felt that day. When the frustration and fear of life mount and the pain and struggle are more than we want to bear, we wish we could run headlong into the bully that hounds and grieves us.
Mary and Martha were having a day like that when Jesus showed up, late, to their brother’s funeral. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died!” Those are the words of a bullied child. Discouragement. Temptation. Marital pain. Financial worries. Disease. Death. It’s enough to make you weep, as Jesus did standing at the grave of his friend Lazarus, the victim of our worst bully, death.
Better Believe It
In a dramatic preview of what would later be the main feature—the Easter event—Jesus called Lazarus forth from the dead. Jesus demonstrated that he alone has power to rush headlong into the chest of the bully and take him down. Lazarus emerged from the tomb, just as Jesus would.
The most amazing part? Jesus said you and I can walk out of our own tombs as well! “I am the resurrection and the life
. . . . Do you believe this?”
Ben Cachiaras is the senior minister of Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, Maryland and past president of the North American Christian Convention.