‘Don’t meddle with me! Or else!’ That’s the response of power to threat. Whether it be the bully-boy in the school yard, the Mafia boss, or the leader of a democratic nation, those in power react to threat in the same way. Crush the rebels. Declare war on terror. Get rid of the threat. Call it national security or sensible business practice or whatever, but squash those who threaten our privileges. And that’s exactly what we see happening on Good Friday. Both the religious leaders and the political authorities take action to put down a threat to their systems. When we see Jesus being nailed to the cross, we see the power structures of the time, represented by people like Caiaphas and Pilate, stamping down on one who threatened their supremacy. It wasn’t just a single individual that they killed; it was an attempt to crush the kingdom or reign of God of which Jesus was the great advocate and embodiment. And it happens over and over again everyday – God’s way of respect for all, compassion and cooperation, is trampled upon by people whose egos or power structures are threatened. But Good Friday is never the end of the story. Easter Day reminds us that the reign of God cannot be put down like that. God’s way of right and respectful relationships, of agape love, rises again undefeated. The Spirit of God cannot be wiped out. Jesus the Christ cannot be dismissed. The kingdom of God is eternal. God reigns. We live now with the knowledge that God’s love triumphs over human power structures. No matter how oppressive the regime may be, God’s way of truth and justice, respect and compassion is never abolished. No matter how restricted our movements may be and how troubled we may feel in the face of a pandemic, we live with the knowledge that Christ is alive and with us.
- What experience have you had of people in power attempting to crush those who opposed them?
- In what way did Jesus pose a threat to the Jewish and to the Roman authorities?
- Give examples of God’s reign posing a threat to people in positions of power.
- Where is your own attitude or practice being challenged by God’s Spirit?