Good Friday: The Way of Peace

Photo Credit: TheRevSteve via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: TheRevSteve via Compfight cc

As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.

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Against the violence of the empire, Jesus stood quietly, embodying nonviolence and humility. He responded vaguely to questions of his identity and silently to the accusations of wrongdoing.

If there was ever a time for violence, this was it. Ever a time for pride or boasting, this was it. But instead, Jesus responds with silence. He willingly bears the shame and humility, refusing to respond with equal vengeance.

Today, amidst the violence of our world, may we contemplate ways to be agents of change in the way that our humble king was. May the “things that make for peace” become our way of life.

And may we remember that all followers of Jesus are called to die with him, to take up our cross and sacrifice our lives for this upside down Kingdom of God.

 

Son of God

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We went to see the Son of God movie the other night, and I will admit that I was very skeptical about it. I don’t usually like movies made from my favorite stories, as it’s rare that someone else will be able to capture the particular meaning I found in them. Imagination is better for these things, and enactments on screen threaten to spoil the movies in my mind. And when it comes to the Jesus stories, there are many movies in my mind that I don’t want spoiled.

Then there’s the fact that the gospels were not written as entertainment, nor were they designed to include a very handsome Jesus. Tom keeps telling me to stop talking about sexy Jesus, but I do not understand why they can’t find someone who actually looks like a poor middle eastern man. I would like a Jesus that would be stopped by a TSA agent, a Jesus that we would imagine visiting a Mosque rather than a Church. Our Messiah had “no form or majesty that we should look at him”(Is. 53:2). The Jesus in this film has creamy skin, flowing hair and piercing eyes.

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Jesus probably looked sort of like this, according to the History Channel.

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Diogo Morgado as Jesus in the “Son of God”.

However, there were many things that I enjoyed about this movie, so I will share them instead of ranting about #hotjesus.

  • Privilege
    The movie did a good job of displaying the privilege of the Romans and the religious leaders. The privileged were blinded by their wealth and status, whereas the humble, the broken, and the impoverished flocked to Jesus. It is difficult to watch this movie as a white, middle-class American and not see myself fitting in most comfortably with the religious leaders, rather than this scraggly band of followers.

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  • Nonviolence
    I’m not sure you can watch this movie and think that weaponry or violence in any form is endorsed by our Messiah. His commitment to nonviolence made it clear that the kingdom of God would not come through force. Barabbas, the prisoner who was freed instead of Jesus, was a zealot whose goal was to defeat Rome by bloodshed. But the message of Jesus was the way of peace, and this was a main reason that the world hated him and shouted for his death (contrary to popular opinion, it wasn’t because he was calling people sinners; the Pharisees were highly successful at doing that themselves). They did not know the way of peace, so Jesus demonstrated it for them. The only blood shed was his own.

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  • Politics and Religion
    As opposed to those trying to establish the kingdom through violence, the religious leaders were attempting to hold hands with Rome. But sleeping with the enemy in order to accomplish God’s purposes only bred corruption. Jesus was wholly opposed to this method of establishing God’s reign, likening the kingdom of God to a mustard seed. It starts out small, growing from the bottom up, not the top down. We were never meant to spread the gospel by taking control of the government, though it is a battle we keep fighting today.

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  • Suffering
    You can’t watch this movie and come away thinking that Jesus endorsed a prosperity gospel. He blessed the poor, but they did not go away rich. Peter’s boat was filled with fish, but then he was immediately asked to leave it all behind. Of all his disciples, only John escaped execution, and even he ended his life in exile. I enjoy wealth and success as much as anyone, but having these things does not mean I am more blessed than the family struggling to make ends meet. Following Jesus does not ensure prosperity.

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So, those are some of my thoughts. It was a pretty good movie, and the creators of it seemed to have done their homework. And it gives us a better picture of the cultural context of the gospels.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

The Peaceable Kingdom

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The first sermon I listened to by Jonathan Martin of Renovatus Church was “The Woman at the Well” on 2/3/13. It was on the Samaritan woman in John 4, a common text about which I have heard many sermons. And yet, the way he spoke of the text was revolutionary, as were the remaining sermons in his “Seen” series. I have not looked at the women in the gospels, and the particular way in which Jesus sees them, the same way since.

I have been listening to his sermons for a year, and they have changed me. I do not think I could have endured the suffering of this past year without the wisdom and grace Pastor Jonathan’s words have provided me. At the end of our second failed fertility treatment, we planned a spontaneous cabin getaway, and I spent the weekend reading his book Prototype.  It calmed my soul and gave me the hope I needed to keep going.

All that to say, if you are a fan of podcasts, and even if you aren’t, you should tune into his new series on the Peaceable Kingdom. The first sermon proclaims his view that the book of Revelation is the most explicitly non-violent book in the Bible, which is radical. And a little crazy. Anyone who hopes to prove a point like that deserves a listen.

Listen here, or subscribe to his podcasts on your phone, as I do. Particularly if you have a frustrating  commute to and from work. It makes the long drive much more bearable. 

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