I suspect there are very few of you reading Jim Class this month who haven’t seen the movie, “Home Alone.” If you haven’t, and you were here, I would tell you as I used to tell my friend Jason, “We’re getting it!” And off to Blockbuster we would go.

Just in case (spoiler alert), it is the story of a young boy who gets left home by mistake while his family leaves for Europe over the Christmas Holiday. A couple of bad guys torment him, but he gets the better of them in the end.

The part of the story that relates to my topic this month is Kevin’s (the boy in the story) next door neighbor “Old Man” Marley. Urban legend held that Marley was a brutal serial killer known as, “The South Bend Shovel Slayer.” He killed his victims with a snow shovel and put them in garbage cans full of salt.

He was, because of the rumors, deemed to be unapproachable, and scary. These rumors coupled with his family estrangement and hermitic lifestyle made Marley seem more ominous than he really was. Ultimately, because of lies and rumors (which are usually synonymous) he was despised by his neighbors.

This rings true in other works of fiction as well: Dennis the Menace’s neighbor, Mr. Wilson. The old man played by Ed Asner (to whom my friend Jason can also relate) in “Up,” and the curmudgeonly Ben Weaver who was the owner of Weaver’s five and dime in Mayberry.  

There were urban legends such as these in my childhood, “The Lost Forest” being the most memorable for me. “The Lost Forest” was a patch of woods behind the house at the end of the cul de sac where I lived in Avon, Indiana, from kindergarten to 2nd grade.

This was actually the same house I mentioned in an earlier blog where we would do power-slides on our stingray bikes into the driveway (or soft grass next to the driveway in my case).

Back to the woods. As we got deeper into these woods, there was a tall, skinny, scraggly, gray tree with hardly any branches or leaves on it, that was shaped like the letter “L”. So, because we were so far away from home (probably a hundred yards at least) we deemed this section of the woods, “The Lost Forest,” (L is for Lost).

The incident I recall most vividly was the day we actually came to the end of “The Lost Forest.” We came to an old wire fence that was bent and rusted, which marked the border of a field that was a pasture to a herd of cattle. We approached the fence, as closely as a bunch of suburbanites in tennis shoes dared, when it happened! A bull began charging (more like loping toward) the fence, and we ran. We ran as fast as we could, screaming cliché’s like, “Run for your life!” and “Stampede!

My brother lost one of his tennis shoes and I, the brave older brother, stopped to retrieve it so that he wouldn’t get in trouble.

We were convinced the bull would knock that chintzy fence down, lower its head, and gouge each of us with its razor sharp horn – just like the bull in the Bugs Bunny episode where Bugs became a matador.

And, from that day forward we were convinced that the farmer who owned that cattle hated kids and that bull was his child-hunting pet trained to ram small boys with its horns. This was a farmer we never met, never saw, and knew nothing about!

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised, and we did not esteem him. (NKJV)

I realize that I took a rather circuitous route to get to that verse, but I wanted to get you all thinking about people in your lives whom you have misjudged. Not to create guilt or condemnation, but empathy and understanding – empathy and understanding for what Jesus went through. The one person who we can clearly say never intentionally harmed one single person and was accused of the most heinous of crimes – He was truly despised.  

The Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines despised this way, “to trample with feet.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible says, “to despise or regard with contempt.”

Think about those definitions. This is how Jesus, our Lord and Savior, was thought of by not only the political leaders of His day, but also the religious leaders, whom we have commonly heard referred to as The Pharisees.

But that is the crux of the story of the Bible. Salvation. Man being reunited with God through the one perfect sacrifice. The Lamb of God. The Savior of the World. The one who was, who is, and who is to come – Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

In the Book of John alone there are multiple references to the Pharisees seeking to kill Jesus. From John chapter five to John chapter seven, three chapters, killing Jesus is mentioned six times. Six times! And He had only just begun His earthly ministry.

There are also references to Jesus changing His travel habits (John 4:1, 7:9, 11:54), references to threats to stone Him (John 8:59), and the sending out of a group of soldiers to arrest Him (John 7:45, 10:39). He was also accused of being demon possessed (John 7:20, 8:45, 10:20).

The part that often gets overlooked is this. On several of those occasions Jesus said, or it was referenced, that His time had not yet come (John 2:4, 7:6, 7:30). The reference in John 2 happened at the Wedding in Cana where Jesus turned the water into wine, but the idea being conveyed is the same – He would decide His own fate.

These are just references from the Book of John. There are others, but I think I have made my point. There are a couple of telltale statements made by Jesus that support the idea that He went to the cross willingly: John 12:23But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. (NKJV)

Following this statement in John, we see the last supper, the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the arrest, trial, crucifixion, and eventual resurrection of Jesus. But during His prayer in the Garden, He makes another reference to His own willingness to go to the cross: Matthew 26:39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (NKJV)

The next thing Jesus did was subject Himself to possibly the most horrible treatment any human has ever endured. There are publications by medical professionals that describe the horrific physical torture Jesus went through. There are diagrams and details that I don’t wish to belabor here.

But those wounds He suffered, the whip marks, the piercing with a crown of thorns, the nails driven into His hands and feet, were for you! Whether you believe it or not, He did so. He could rescue you and have a personal relationship with you. He was despised and rejected for you.

If you have longed for a relationship with Jesus and been hesitant, if you had at one point followed Him but have drifted away, hat promise He made on the cross still holds true.

Pray this simple prayer, “Father, please forgive me. I am sorry. I believe that Jesus did these things for me. I want to have a new life as a Christian. I accept Jesus as my Lord and savior and want to live for Him. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

That’s what Easter is all about. New Life. If you prayed that prayer, let me know. Send me a personal message on Facebook or let me know in the comments.

Jesus was despised and died for the very people who despised Him.

Hence the reason for my mention of “Home Alone” at the opening of Jim Class. Keven McCallister felt as though he had received salvation at the end of “Home Alone” when Mr. Marley – the one the community rejected – rescued him from the wet bandits with the very snow shovel he was purported to have murdered people with!