Social change is often derailed because powerful people place their own status and wealth above the needs of others. That’s the dynamic that killed Jesus.
Jesus came preaching the Rule of God; that is, he was seeking a way of life that is in accord with God’s intention for the world. In this way of life, everyone receives daily bread, healing is available to all, and dignity is the birthright of all people. The Romans, who exercised civil rule over Israel, could not accept the way of Jesus. It threatened their position of power, prestige, and superiority; thus, Jesus had to be stopped.
Jesus was also working to build a religious community based on respect, forgiveness, mercy, and love. He wanted a Temple that was truly a place of prayer for all people, not a means through which the religious elite manipulated others. He wanted teaching and practice that flowed with grace, not condemnation. Jerusalem’s religious leaders could not accept what Jesus was doing. His way threatened their positions of prestige, power, and superiority; thus, Jesus needed to be stopped.
The religious and civil leaders wanted Jesus out of the way. To do that, they misrepresented his teaching, made up stories about him, bribed one of his followers, and executed him. That’s how people of power and prestige sometimes respond to attempts at making a safer and more equitable world. For a time, they succeed. But only for a time. For Christ is risen, and with his resurrection, the Spirit of God is unleashed.
And when that Spirit is unleashed, says the prophet Joel, “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” (Joel 3:28)
And the prophet Isaiah speaks of reconciliation among enemies, saying, “the wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)
And the teenager Mary, filled with God’s Spirit, said, “The Lord has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1:51b-53)
Christ is risen! Alleluia! He is risen from the dead!
And because he lives, young and old together work for the kind of world he desires, a world of peace and non-violence, a world in which love conquers hate, and a world in which healing and grace abundantly flow.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!