Grace and peace to you.
One of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.
— Luke 22.50-51
The church has theologized the heck out of the story of Jesus’ passion. When the doctrinal bricklayers get hold of it, it becomes little more than a monument, an audiovisual aid for a theological statement. But listen. It’s a story.
If you want you can read it as a story about the working out of God’s “plan.” But violence and injustice are not a part of God’s plan. Face it: that’s more like our plan. This is a story about our cruelty; about oppression and injustice, and the evil of military, political, economic and even religious coercion; about how individual evil lodges in social structures. It’s a story about death squads and hate speech, about Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, about Oscar Romero and Martin Luther King, Jr.; about inciting angry mobs (yes, even these); about the demonic nature of capital punishment.
It’s story about fear. Everybody is scheming, or dealing in lies and threats and death, or fluttering into a panic with swords and defensive strategies, or posturing with false courage, or else in deep denial, arguing over who’s the greatest.
But mostly this is a story about a person. Throughout the story, watch Jesus. Keep your eyes on him. In every scene, at every turn, every opportunity, what is he doing? He’s just loving people. He gathers to eat with his beloved, and he gives himself to them. He washes their feet and prays with them. When Peter brazenly promises to stand by him, Jesus knows better, but he gently draws Peter back in, and gives him a way to go on, even before he fails. When they arrest him and violence breaks out, he stops it, and heals the very one who has come to arrest him. Even as he is crucified he provides for the care of his family and his community; he extends his love to the criminals executed with him, and blesses the people who kill him. It’s all about his undying love.
We’re easily distracted by the swords and tunics, the blood and violence. But watch Jesus. Watch his love at work, reaching out to the lost and shattered, reaching out even to you. In the end, despite all the tragedy, what this is, is a love story. And it’s about you.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes