Messala, a Roman tribune, was so sure of himself, so certain that he understood power and how to use it. Without question, he would have scoffed at the idea of a Jewish messiah, or deliverer.
And for a time, he would have appeared to be on the winning side.
Consider the events of Holy Week. The followers of Jesus had been so sure he was the One. A week before Passover, they had strewn their cloaks and palm branches before him as he entered Jerusalem, shouting lustily, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
And then the crucifixion… What hope was there now?
A silent tomb, guarded by seasoned soldiers, held the lifeless body of Jesus. A day passed, then two… There was no change in the status quo. The powers that be began to breathe a collective sigh of relief. There would be no resurrection as the “impostor” had promised while still alive. No, the world was safely back on course… predictable and temporal.
Then came the third day, Easter Sunday, and a display of power unlike anything the world had ever seen. Some years later, the apostle Paul would describe it as the greatness of God’s power given to us who believe… the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 1:19-20)
Our natural inclination is to think of physical strength as real power – be it the might of a nation’s military or the power of a fighter’s punch. Take Roberto Durán of Panamá, for instance. He once held the world boxing title in four separate weight classes! His nickname says it all: Manos de Piedra (Hands of Stone). I don’t want to take anything away from a great boxer; after all, it is the “manly art”. But hands of stone do not constitute the greatest power.