Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Will Go Ahead Of You To Galilee

One of the major themes in the Gospels is kingship.  To put it another way, what does it mean that Jesus was the Messiah?  We see that come to a head in Mark chapter eight when Peter names Jesus the Messiah, but when Jesus says being the Messiah means crucifixion, Peter becomes very upset.  Nothing has changed from then to now.  We still naturally define the role of king as being the one at top, but Jesus made it very clear, in his teaching and in his death, that being master means being slave and being first means being last.

That's no easier to stomach today then it was for Peter 2000 years ago.  Although most Christians I know of would never argue that they have earned their relationship with God through their own worth, I've known quite a few Christians who think all people should do things their way once they are in a relationship with God.  "But," a lady once asked me, "don't you think the world would be a better place if people did do things our way?"  To that I say, if by "our way" you mean Jesus's way, then yes, the world would be a much better place.  It would look like the Kingdom of God.  But even then, how do we as Christians work to make that happen?  If the way we go about establishing the Kingdom of God here on earth is by earthly channels, and by that I mean putting ourselves in positions of power and making people do what we want, what makes us think we'll get a different result than anything we've already seen?

As Christians, we cannot forget that Jesus intentionally refused to accept positions of power and authority, at least in the normal socio-political sense of the words.  When the crowds wanted to make him king, he flat out refused to do it, and masses of people stopped following after him when he did so.  "But that was during his ministry," you might say, "After his resurrection he is the Lord of creation!  How is that not power and authority?"  It is power and authority, I fully agree.  But, and this is a strong but, even sitting at the right hand of God, how does Jesus use his authority.

Does he caste the Herods out and take the thrown of Jerusalem?  Does he build armies and restore the nation of Israel to a position of prominence in the Middle East?  Does he travel to Rome and have a long discussion with the Emperor about who's really in charge?  No, no, and no.  He goes to Galilee.

"But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee." -Matthew 26:32

Nothing good can come from Nazareth, right?  In his ministry, even his closest friends had a difficult time understanding how Jesus was showing what real kingship looked like.  But even when he "arrived," and I would call defeating death and setting creation free the arrival of Jesus's ministry, he still lives out the authority he has been given by walking among the least in the nation of Israel.  He never plays the power games of those who think they are mighty.  His kingship isn't shown in palaces or armies or robes or crowns.  His kingship is shown in walking alongside the marginalized and ostracized.  As first, Jesus walks among the last.  As master of all, Jesus meets the disciples where the slaves live.

Being a Christian entitles us to nothing, especially if what we want is prestige and influence.  In fact, if we want those things as a Christian, I would suggest that we might have some wrong ideas about Christianity to begin with.  We are the slaves and servants of our communities, the suffering servants.  We give up our wants and desires for the betterment of others.  That's true rulership.  That's the power of God witnessed in this world.  Being a disciple of Jesus means breaking the cycle of how power is used in this fallen world, and that means going to Galilee and not staying in Jerusalem.

Stopping point: Matthew 26

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