By David Martin | Pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church
God the Father said, “It’s time.” He looked with love toward the Son and the Spirit and with a nod, they both began preparation for the journey to that small corner of the universe that captured the Father’s love, sparked the Son’s great heart, and caught the Spirit’s breath.
Just then one of the archangels motioned to be heard.
“Yes, you may speak,” said the Father.
“Lord God, may I make a simple suggestion? The humans are quite sophisticated now. Their advertising techniques are quite advanced. They really have learned the principles of marketing. Why don’t we take a page from their book, as it were, and make our decisions based on their input? After all, the way to stay in business is to give the customer what he wants!”
The angel looked quite pleased with himself for he had observed and learned much from the humans on Madison Avenue.
The Father thoughtfully considered and a twinkle shone through His essence. “All right. My plans are made, my Word has been given, but just for your information and education, I authorize you to take a poll. If marketing the Messiah is the way to go in this advanced age, then you are in charge. You choose the people, the place, the means. Do it by using a survey. Poll the constituents. Make your decision based on the best demographic studies you can muster and report back to me. I am a patient God. We can wait a little longer.”
On wings that carried him as swift as the dawn, the angel was off. He followed his Master’s bidding and in to time at all, for it is ever eternity in Heaven, he was back with page after page of studies, polls, and results.
“I have decided to simply compare your plans with the felt needs of the people of Isreal. In that way, you can quickly see how you must adapt to their understandings and wishes,” the angel said pleased, but not proud and pushy. He was simply trying to help. “First of all the place of birth, this Bethlehem-Ephrata in Judea, simply won’t do. My survey indicates that to be a poor choice. Since David has largely been forgotten by the populace, no one will really see the significance. In fact, Bethlehem is a good place to be from, but to move far away from as soon as possible. Perhaps a better choice would be Jerusalem. That place gets a lot of press; the eyes of the whole world are on it for some reason. If you want to reach the people where they are, then that out-of-the-way place will never do. Remember: location, location, location!”
The Father and the Son exchanged knowing looks and with the hint of a smile they turned back to the angel. “What other conclusion have you come to?” asked the Son.
The angel looked down at his papers and started slowly, “Well, I know you think it is very important, and I certainly mean no disrespect, but the Virgin Birth is a very hard pill for many to swallow. I mean, it’s never been done before. We certainly live in a progressive society, but a single girl showing up pregnant is going to get that knowing look and no one is going to be able to understand. I’m thinking of Mary. What are folks going to say about her if this happens?
The Father looked unperturbed and simply smiled. “Go on,” He said patiently.
The angel continued, “Well, studies show that the name you’ve chosen is to eventually become a problem as well. Yes, millions will love and cherish it, but the vast majority are going to defame it. Jesus Christ is going to become the most cursed and abused name in all of history. No other name will be so misused and degraded as His. Why eventually they will even replace it with an “X” on the day they pretend to celebrate His birth. I don’t have any alternative suggestions but I’m sure you can come up with something.”
The angel went on, “Forgive me, but the idea for the Baby to be wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger and the shepherds getting the only announcement; I’m sorry but,” the angel stopped for a brief pause with a look of fright and then asked hesitantly, “don’t you think that humble beginning situation has been a little overworked? I can understand it with some of the prophets. No one really listened to them anyway. But this is the Son. He is far more important than some locust-and-wild-honey type. If the people are going to receive Him, then His is going to have to project a more positive image. People today are looking for someone who is a success. You know what they say, nothing breeds success like success. The latest polls indicate that a manger birth and limited exposure just won’t draw a crowd. The closest you come to something with some real pizzazz is the wise men’s visit, but the whole thing could be pumped up a little more. In my book, it’s just a case of too little, too late.”
With a quick breath and a glance at the throne, the angel proceeded to tell of his findings, “The plan that His mother and supposed father will be humble people and that His childhood will be simple and rather quiet is also a less-than-perfect scenario. You know how much attention those child prodigies get. You’re only going to let him shine that one time in the temple and then fade away in a family setting. Let’s build on that. Let him do a few miracles at a young age. People are suckers for children. I’m sure that the simple family and obscure beginning approach just won’t cut it in today’s marketing climate.”
Continuing, the angel said, “We are going to have a hard time selling the concept of his lifestyle and his call to discipleship. People are learning to assert themselves, find themselves, love themselves, better themselves, improve themselves, and He is going to call on them to deny themselves and to die to self. This goes against everything they believe in and hold dear. I don’t think the idea will ever really catch on. If you are going to reach the masses, then I recommend you rethink this principle.”
The angel rushed on, enthusiastic about his findings and eager to share the results. “In my surveys, I’ve also come to the conclusion that mankind is really not interested in the purpose you have for sending the Son in the first place. They are not looking for a Savior. Most of them don’t even know they need one. A better approach might be to scrap this entire project and rethink the reason for the whole thing. I just think that the people might be more open to a king, no, make that an emperor. Rome is definitely the place. Power is definitely the name of the game. People respond to those who rule. After the kingdom is established, then the time would be right for mentioning the sin and salvation theme. You know, get them in with pomp, ceremony, and image. People just aren’t going to come if you don’t give them what they want. Remember, you must find your niche in the marketplace, find a felt need, and fill it.
The Father smiled at the well-meaning angel and said, “I appreciate your intention. I’m afraid, however, that you’ve been concentrating on the human race so much that you’ve lost sight of the grand work I am doing in the universe. I just want to remind you that these ideas are not new and mankind certainly didn’t come up with them.”
The Father continued, “I won’t change the place of His birth, nor the means of it, not the announcement to the shepherds, nor His childhood. His purpose can’t change, so His name can’t either. He comes to be Savior and regardless of man’s felt need, my Holy Spirit will get through to some of them. When He does, the Name of Jesus will be the sweetest thought of their heart and the last word on their lips.”
With a sigh, the Lord God continued, His voice soft with a pain whose source was eternally constant. “Remember the Garden of Eden? Remember the Wicked One’s plan? He appealed to Eve’s felt need. He gave her exactly what she thought she wanted. That’s the reason for the whole purpose of my Son’s visit to earth. You are right. The coming of the Messiah will not make the papers, and we refuse to use the advertising methods of the humans. But I have been preparing them for over thirteen hundred years now. Some of them will listen, and some of them will understand. Besides, this is not all I will do to redeem them from sin. In just a little while, the Son will be back home, and the Spirit will continue His work. Trust me, little one, my plan will work. It just won’t work that way. I cannot simply market the Messiah. It’s far too important to risk losing the message in the medium.”