It seems that the people of the Jesus Movement expected something else. Maybe a violent overthrow of their Roman oppressors. Maybe just a living wage and single-payer health care. A chicken in every pot. Maybe they just wanted someone, one of their own, to say that he understood and to speak for them and fight for them. But it didn’t work out that way. Their Yeshua, their rescuer, their deliverer, was arrested and killed. Not just killed, but executed in a way that was reserved for enemies of the state – terrorists and traitors. It seems somewhat ironic that the cross has become the central symbol of the Christian faith, the means of execution of the one who was to be our rescuer.
Among biblical scholars, this is known as “the scandal of the cross.” The execution of Jesus had its intended effect: no one wanted to be connected to Jesus. When you hang the leader of the movement on a piece of wood for public viewing, the movement tends to fragment. It is not merely fear, but shame. Your savior is utterly defeated. All his followers hid or went back to their day jobs.
But it seemed there was life in this movement, yet. The women didn’t go home. Instead, they went to the tomb and what they saw shocked them. It was empty. Then it got weird. People started seeing Jesus all over place. As it turned out, there were rescuers everywhere people needed rescuing. Salvation was a present reality, not a dashed hope.
One could take a cynical view. Resurrection stories could be a marketing move or a mass delusion. It is a fact that the followers of Jesus needed some way to deal with the scandal. If the movement was to continue, there was certainly a public relations angle to consider. However, there was also massive personal grief. Jesus asked his followers to give up their lives – their families, their jobs, their status in their communities – to follow him. They did that. For years. And this is how it ends? There must be something else. Or there must be a reason it ended this way. If not, then what have we been doing? And how do we go on?
Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Kidd Springs Rec Center as we talk about hope defeated and how we go on with purpose.
Grace & Peace,
September 1: The Scandal of the Cross
How do we move forward from grief and loss? How do we remain hopeful?
September 8: Atonement Theology
Did Jesus have to die? If so, why?
September 15: Saved from what?
If Jesus died so that we could be saved, from what are we saved? Should everyone have the same answer?