28 March 2015

THAT’S NO WAY TO END UP

PALM SUNDAY
mark 11:1-10; isaiah 50:4-7; philippians 2:6-11; mark 14:1-15:47

addressing a college audience in missouri, gordon liddy (a former white house aide involved in the watergate affair) emphasized that only force, ruthless use of violence and an iron will could earn the respect of friends and foes in this «real world.»
one of the faculty rose timidly and stammered: «but… in our country, most people… base their ethics on… like… the teachings of JESUS… and this-doesn’t-sound-much-like-the-teachings-of-JESUS.» 
liddy glared a moment, took in a breath, and bellowed: «yeah! and look what happened to JESUS!» he flailed his arms outward as if on the cross and said: «they crucified him.»
the audience was stunned… but only briefly. then there was a thunderous applause! liddy merely stated what everyone else had already concluded: «failure, persecution and pain, instead of success, appreciation and a good retirement—that’s no way to end up» (cf. a.j. conyers, the eclipse of heaven).

like the college audience, the crowds in jerusalem two millennia ago applauded JESUS and greeted him with shouts and waving of palm branches because they expected him to be their conquering hero. however, since JESUS’ power was not the power the world understands, since the messiah was not a military hero but a suffering servant, their cheers on sunday quickly turned to jeers on friday. paul is clear in the letter to the philippians: though JESUS was the son of GOD, he did not cling to his privileges but humbled himself and became obedient unto a shameful death on a cross. abused and abandoned, he did not rebel, he did not use force but was the suffering servant.
it was this crucified and broken JESUS who «truly… was the son of GOD», a fact the roman centurion recognized and affirmed. wasn’t the roman a foe?!

failure, persecution and pain—that’s the way JESUS chose; that’s the force of GOD… which has won the respect, love and faith of millions of people through the ages.
which way will i choose: the way of gordon liddy—success, appreciation and a good retirement—or the way of JESUS—obedient suffering?