Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

The death of Jesus - did it have to happen? From Marcus' Borg's Jesus:
No. It is never the will of God that a righteous man be crucified. Did it have to happen? It might have turned out differently. Judas might not have betrayed Jesus. The temple authorities might have decided on a course of action other than execution. Pilate might have let Jesus go or decided on a punishment other than death. But it did happen this way...

Yet, though not required by divine necessity, the execution of Jesus was virtually a human inevitability. This is what domination systems do to people who challenge them, publicly and vigorously. It happened often in the ancient world. It had happened to Jesus' mentor John the Baptizer, executed by Herod Antipas not long before. Now it happened to Jesus. Within a few more decades, it would happen to Paul, Peter, and James. We should wonder what it was about Jesus and his movement that so provoked the authorities at the top of the domination system of their time.

But Jesus was not simply an unfortunate victim of a domination system's brutality. He was also a protagonist filled with passion. His passion, his message, was about the kingdom of God. He spoke to peasants as a voice of religious protest against the central economic and political institutions of his day. He attracted a following, took his movement to Jerusalem at the season of Passover, and there challenged the authorities with public acts and public debates. All of this was his passion, what he was passionate about--God and the kingdom of God, God and God's passion for justice.

Jesus' passion got him killed...

Jesus' passion was the kingdom of God. It led him to oppose the domination system of his time. The cross of Jesus, the central symbol of Christianity, was political. His death also has religious significance. But any understanding that negates the political meaning of his death on the cross betrays the passion for which he was willing to give his life. His passion was God and the kingdom of God--and it led to his execution by the "powers that be." The domination system killed him.

No comments: