I’m sure you know the story.
An orphan girl lives a monotonous life filled with loneliness serving as a slave to her stepmother and stepsisters.
One day in a stroke of luck, she is visited by her fairy godmother. Her humble clothing and cinder smudged face become hidden by an extravagant ball gown. A glimmer of hope sparkles in her eyes as her fate appears to be changing when she is taken to a ball to meet the prince.
The excitement is short lived. She attends the prince’s ball and there she turns every head in the kingdom. She takes the prince’s breath away with her beauty and elegance. But, just as she begins to dream of a new life, that dream is snatched away as the clock strikes midnight.
The glittery diamonds and flawless dress start to fade as she is transformed back into her true self. Smudges return to her face as she flees the palace in shame. In her haste, she leaves behind a shoe.
The prince does not soon forget the beautiful girl he met at the ball. Prince Charming is determined to find his princess. He orders his servants to search high and low, to turn over the kingdom to find the girl to whom the shoe belongs. He finds her and they live happily ever after.
It’s a nice story, but Cinderella is not the Gospel. It’s a fairytale.
If this were a parable or story reflective of the narrative of Scripture it might read a little differently.
In the Biblical telling of the story, Cinderella is not just someone caught in the wrong circumstances at the wrong time. She is not an innocent servant—she deserves her captivity. She committed high treason. Rebellion runs deep within her, it’s part of her nature.
Her situation is more substantial than just her captivity. Her rebellion has sentenced her to death for her crimes. Cinderella’s prodigious problem is that she is dead.
There is no ball, no disguising or dressing up her true nature. Nothing can hide the dirt of shame and defiance on her face. She would never dream of meeting the prince.
Just as this Cinderella is antithetical to the classic fairy tale, so Jesus is contradictory to Prince Charming.
Jesus does not engage with Cinderella in accordance with the ways of Prince Charming. He does use His power and His servants to find her. He gives up His power and comes to her not with strength, but in weakness.
While the prince in the fairy tale cannot relate or sympathize with the life of suffering that Cinderella has known, Jesus can and is intimately aware of Cinderella’s pain. Jesus knows her loneliness, her slavery, her abandonment. Nothing can hide her true wicked nature from Him.
Jesus doesn’t just come to find His Cinderella, He comes to raise her from the dead. He is intimately aware with Cinderella because her pain, her suffering, her rebellion, and her sin belongs to Him. Jesus came to take from Cinderella what was rightfully hers. He comes to kill her sin and her rebellious nature. Jesus comes to die in her place, and by His death, raise the one whom He loves.
The Gospel is not like Cinderella, it is not like any fairy tale because the Gospel is real—the Gospel has flesh and bones. The Gospel has a name.
Prince Charming, though a nice idea, isn’t real.
Contrary to these myths and fairy tales, Jesus does not just “live” in the hearts and minds of people. He is not a great belief, a nice thought, an empty hope, or an encouraging concept.
Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. He does not distance Himself from us, or come to us in all His power and might, He draws near to us in weakness. He, Himself is the one who seeks us out. Jesus finds us, not with a missing shoe, but in His death for us. Jesus acquires us through His death and resurrection.
“From His riven side forever flows the purest steam of love, Love that robes us with the raiment Worn by all who feast above.” — Stephen Starke
We do not have a fairy godmother who dresses us in the finest clothes and masquerades our outward appearance in order to make us presentable to the prince. We have a God who loved us while we were still sinners, who washes us in Baptism and takes away the dirt of sin that is caked on our faces. Jesus takes our rags and clothes us with Himself. The robes that Jesus gives us flow from His pierced side.
The Gospel is not like the fictional tale of Cinderella. The Gospel is much, much sweeter. The Gospel is a real person—the Gospel is Jesus who descended in weakness and died for you to make you His own.