Jesus Wins…So We Don’t Have To

Christ shows himself to Thomas, mosaic in Washington Cathedral by Rowan and Irene LeCompte, n.d.

My posts are going to be pretty spotty for the next few weeks. We’ve sold our house, we’ll be moving to a new house soon and I’ll be starting a new job so my attention will be elsewhere. Such is the life of a part-time/hobby blogger. For those who look forward to my posts, I appreciate your patience. Hopefully things will return to more regularity in May. I intended to get this post up closer to Easter, but things being as they are…this will have to suffice.

Lent concluded just over a week ago now with the celebration of Easter. For Christians, this is the biggest day of the year. On it we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, upending expectations, breaking the grip of death, the salvation of the cosmos and the inauguration of Kingdom of God on the Earth as it is in Heaven.

In simpler words, we celebrate and remember the day that everything changed.

Of all the things that I heard on Easter Sunday, and through all the food I ate, one truth bubbled up in my head and refused to dissipate. I think I was actually driving down the road when this thought hit me.

Jesus Wins…So We Don’t Have To.

In Easter we remind ourselves of Jesus victory over death first discovered by the women heading to the tomb early in the morning. The Jesus they thought was dead and buried had risen and left the tomb. The movement Jesus’ followers thought had ended was suddenly revived with Jesus and given new meaning.

Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. They said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts on fire when he spoke to us along the road and when he explained the scriptures for us?
Luke 24:31-32 (CEB)

Through Jesus, sin, death and the powers of this world are put on notice. Victory was not gained through power and oppression but through weakness and death. The ascension of Jesus as Lord was not earned by the sharpness of his sword but by the piercing of his body. Judgement and vengeance against his torturers, accusers and murders is replaced by his pronouncement of Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” (Luke 23:34 CEB). Through those words and triumph of the resurrection, the path to forgiveness, sanctification and peace with God and the world opens up for all.

Typically we, in Evangelical Protestantism, focus on the forgiveness offered to ourselves so that individually we might be reconciled to God. But Jesus request of forgiveness was for the multitude crying out against him. The resurrection was not just for the faithful disciples who stuck by his side (even though they really didn’t), but so that they might be empowered in their weakness by the authority demonstrated in Jesus to, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19 CEB).

Jesus Wins…So We Don’t Have To.

When we realize the redemption demonstrated and offered through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus has also been offered to our neighbor we no longer have to “win” anymore. As the disciples who deserted Jesus are welcomed back in and empowered, we are shown an example, in Jesus, that forgiving our neighbors (accusers, deserters, liars, etc.) is the real way to win.

There is no punishment to be exacted.

There is no tribute to be demanded.

There is no sacrifice to pay.

There are no castles to defend.

Our life is given to lay down in service to others.

Our blessings are to be used to bless others.

Our authority is to be shared by disciple-ing others.

Our walls are to be broken down and the doors and gates flung open.

Jesus Wins…So We Don’t Have To.

Don’t get me wrong. I am glad every day that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection lead to my redemption and sanctification as an individual. But, the more I can understand the truth of that in my neighbor, the less I need to fight for some temporary position over and against my neighbor. The more I realize Jesus has opened up the way of forgiveness to them, the less I need my needs met against theirs.

I no longer need to be right, I just need to remember and pray as Jesus taught us to, “Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us.” (Matthew 6:12 CEB)

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