[Part 3 of my Easter blog series. For part one click here].
Jesus rides into Jerusalem to shouts of “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord” and then disrupts the current epicenter of the religious and political Powers That Be.
I suspect that this was the beginning of the end for Jesus. This is where The Powers That Be began to recognize him as a viable threat to their power and began to conspire to rid themselves of this thorn in the side.
These two stories together are a story of not only confronting the Powers That Be, but they are the beginning of a reality check as to how far the Powers That Be Will go to protect their status. It is a story whose conclusion happens on Easter.
It’s a story that continues to echo in the world today. We can look to the life story of Dr. King and see it. We can even see it in our political platforms as various groups of folks who are used to being privileged are beginning to lash out as they feel their power slipping away.
Confronting the Powers That Be can be dangerous work. It should not be taken lightly. It can be unsettling, unnerving, and downright uncomfortable. The Powers That Be will not go down gently – they never do. They will use every tool available to them. In confronting them, we could be risking our good name, our freedom, or even (as we see on Easter Sunday) our lives.
Yet, we are morally obligated to confront them. Yes, we are called to do so lovingly – but confront them we must, because they will not relinquish their power gently.
The Palm Sunday to Easter story is a not-so-gentle reminder of how much is required to resist powerful and oppressive forces, and it is a reminder of how far the Powers That Be will go to protect their Power.
The Good News is that Easter’s conclusion is a reminder that it’s also the story of how far Love will go for the sake of divine justice. In the end, while Easter is a story of confronting those who would use their power to oppress others and the real risks that go along with it, it is also the story of the resurrecting power of love and hope.
In his life, Jesus sought to show us what the fullness of love looks like in action.
It looks like healing people who are hurt. It looks like feeding people who are hungry. It looks like loving people who are shunned. It looks like defending people who are overwhelmed. It looks like friends sharing food together. It looks like grieving over the loss of a friend. It looks like a conversation over a drink of cool water. It looks like helping the celebration along at a wedding. It looks like helping the lost find meaning.
It looks like a man, hanging from a tree, because the threat of death from the most powerful government on the face of the planet was not enough to subdue his love for those who were being taken advantage of.
It wasn’t a moment that erased our sins by some mystical magic show from above.
Jesus’ death showed us how far love will go, what love looks like when it is played out to its fullest. And it showed us that, if we truly choose to follow, it can save us.
Not only that, in “saving” one another, in standing up to the Powers That Be as they use their powers to take advantage of the “least of these,” we will find ourselves drawing closer together as a society, overcoming divides, and seeing the beauty that resides in each of us… some may even call it a reflection of God. In those actions we experience atonement. At-one-ment with God.
That, is how we save God.