I have an idea why Jesus relates so much to prisoners and their various plights. Hear me out.
It’s Easter time, 2017. On Maundy Thursday Pope Francis, one of my heroes, entered a prison in Italy and washed the feet of more than a dozen former mafia figures, now incarcerated. On Good Friday, around the world, people attended services observing the death of our Savior. On Easter morning, church attendance records will break as people attend services celebrating the resurrection of the Christ.
Then comes Monday. I love the whimsical Avery and Marsh Easter song that goes like this:
Ev'ry morning is Easter morning
from now on!
Ev'ry day's resurrection day,
the past is over and gone!
I always hope it will be that way. But the reality of the situation is that, once Easter is gone, it will be forgotten by many until this time in 2018. We went to church. We thought of Jesus. Our dues have been paid. Now it’s back to the real world.
No wonder Jesus identifies with prisoners.
Let me use the Maurice Carter story as a perfect example, and prisoners around the world will be able to relate to this.
Maurice served 29 years for a crime he did not commit. Less than 10 years after his arrest he appeared live on a TV show on a new and exciting network called CNN. He was given a lie detector test on camera. The test was repeated two more times. He passed. People all over the country shook their heads in disgust at a system that would convict an innocent man. At least one attorney vowed to help him. Action was needed. Months later, all was forgotten, and Maurice remained in jail.
We put up billboards. We held rallies. We brought in former welterweight champ Rubin Hurricane Carter for personal appearances. Time after time the story made front page news. Promises and commitments were made. This man had to be freed. Nothing happened.
We found the real criminal, the person who committed the crime that put Maurice in prison. We still hold the evidence. It made news for a minute, but the next day it was back to normal. The system would not budge.
Maurice didn’t get out until the system reluctantly released him because he was dying. He was never exonerated.
The good news is that one day he will be freed, thanks to the Christ whose resurrection we celebrate tomorrow.
When it comes to the risen Lord, when it comes to the people behind bars whom he loved and loves so much, this year let’s determine that every morning will be Easter morning from now on!