Friday, March 25, 2016

Foolish Jesus

Good Friday we call it, the day when Jesus let the Jewish leaders and Romans crucify him. It's the day when Jesus chose not to fight back. It was the day that Jesus chose the path of the fool.

1. Paul says, "The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." To the Greeks, to outsiders, it is just plain stupid. So you're telling me that the king of the universe showed he was king by letting himself be tortured and defeated on a cross? That's just plain dumb.

To the Jews, to insiders, it is beyond insulting. It's beyond infuriating. It's enough for us to take you out and beat you to death. So you're saying that our champion was humiliated and abused? You're saying the one whose function is to free us from foreign rule showed he was our king by letting our dominator win?

2. I don't think Peter was a coward. He was ready to fight for Jesus. He had his sword ready. He was ready to fight to the death for Jesus the king. What confused him was the Jesus who let the servants of the high priest take him, the Jesus who said almost nothing as he was being interrogated. It's not what he expected in a winner.

Maybe that's why Judas handed Jesus over. Did he want a fight and not get one? Was he trying to force God's hand? Was he trying to force Jesus' hand? Was he infuriated that Jesus himself wasn't on the offensive?

3. There is a time to fight. There is a time for Joshua. There will be a time when Jesus will return and fight. Good Friday is not about that time.

Good Friday is about winning by letting your enemy win. 1 Peter says, "It is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God" (3:17-18). There is no honor in the guilty person who suffers. They are getting what they deserve.

The righteous person who suffers condemns the person who is wronging them. The true martyr, the one who has done nothing wrong and is persecuted by others, this one is not only the one honored in eternity (blessed are you when others persecute you) but a source of power to the forces of justice in this world.

So there is a time to submit to evil, just as there is a time to fight it. 1 Peter addresses such a time. The middle voice of the Greek means something like, "choose to submit." "Servants, choose to submit to your masters... also to the twisted" (1 Pet. 2:18). There's a time for the underground railroad. And there's a time to choose to endure unjust persecution.

4. If you reject this truth, you are rejecting Jesus. When it is the right time, this is how followers of Jesus live. This was the heart of Jesus' mission. This is the cruciform life of servanthood.

There is a time to fight--especially for others. Christians fight for others when it is time. Fighting for yourself is a different matter. Getting your just deserts is something different. God is the judge. Vengeance is his.

It takes strength to let the unjust win. For many of us, it is far easier to fight and get revenge. Or maybe we are too insecure to let some fool win. Maybe we can't handle appearing to be the loser. Maybe we feel threatened by the appearance of weakness.

If our security is in God, we don't need to appear strong to others here. If our hope and confidence is in God, then we don't have to win here. We know who wins. We know who loses. The one who thinks he or she will win by dominating us is the real fool.

The enemy, the bully, the selfish narcissist that is smiling now will quake and bow in silence to Lord Jesus soon enough.

1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

Well said. Thanks.