Some of us remember the old western movies, especially those with Clint Eastwood. There were those posters with his face on them saying: ‘Wanted Dead or Alive.’ There would be a reward attached to the sign. Finding the person alive would bring in the larger award amount.
Being wanted dead or alive is a very risky life to live. Anyone wanted dead or alive always has to look over their shoulders, is always on the run, and always has to really be careful about whom to trust. Any time a person is wanted dead or alive, the person is at risk for someone turning them in—not for personal reasons but for the reward money.
As we reflect on the life of Jesus Christ during this Holy Week, Jesus lived his life wanted dead or alive. Jesus had a group of people who wanted him dead or alive. They did not have a sign posted all over Jerusalem, but they were very clear on their intentions to get rid of Jesus. Their intent was not to bring Jesus to justice, because he was an innocent man. They did not want Jesus around stirring up trouble and bringing into questions their religious piety, threatening their power and status in the community. This was true of King Herod, after Jesus’ birth, and of those Pharisees during Jesus’ ministry and crucifixion.
In Luke 22:1-6, the plot to capture Jesus unfolded including a monetary reward and the help of Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Even though Jesus was a wanted man, he did not live his life in hiding or in fear. He lived his life displaying his role as the Messiah with boldness. We, too, must do the same. We learn from Jesus and those old Clint Eastwood westerns that one does not have to be a criminal to be wanted dead or alive. We need to know that we are living the life of the most wanted, but not because we did something wrong. It is because we are followers of Jesus Christ.
The person who wants us is not the FBI, but the devil. The devil wants us dead or alive so that he can destroy us. Like Jesus, we cannot live our lives on the run; we must live out God’s will in spite of the risks. The reward for the devil capturing us is turning us against God, and undermining God’s power.
He wants possession of us and to destroy God’s power over and in us. We are wanted dead or alive. If he captures us alive, he will try to kill our spirit, our joy, our soul, our mind, and our faith—because he wants us dead. There is good news for those of us on the most wanted list: we are on the verge of a breakthrough; we are about to meet a divine destiny; promise is manifesting; and there is a Resurrection Day.
If the devil captures us dead in our sinfulness, or alive in his grace in love, Jesus has the authority to release and resurrect each of us. Jesus was wanted dead or alive. The soldiers captured him, beat him, and crucified him, but early one Sunday morning, he rose from the dead, alive and filled with all power—wanted dead or alive.