He marched into Palestine in 63 B.C. Pompey, I mean. The famous Roman general, I mean, and that was the beginning of Roman domination of the land through its Herodian kings. Before long Roman governors and consuls and generals made their appearance in the land; many of them thugs and all of them heartless servants of emperors. There were oppressive taxes, humiliations, senseless treatment even of people who were willing to put up with the occupational forces. Oppress too long, push too hard and finally even people who know they can’t win will rebel. In Judea and Galilee there were unarmed protests put down by force and there were those who believed that only armed resistance would make things better. Assassinations and kidnappings by the Sicarii and other fevered revolutionaries became common enough. Roman government and those nationalists who collaborated with the Romans would call it terrorism but since it was a response to oppression and slavery it might well have been called counter-terrorism.
It’s all so reasonable and in the light of devilry that can drive people nearly insane it’s appealing; “it’s the only thing to be done.” Sometimes the difference between the “good guys” and the “bad guys” is so clear that we’re sure that this is “a just war.” I can see that! Do we have to prove that when before our eyes obscenely unspeakable and sustained cruelty is perpetrated? Don’t we wish that everything was so simple, so indisputable? Often it’s difficult to know who the “good” and “bad” guys are or if it’s even possible to draw a distinction. “Who started this?” becomes an endless debate and once things get going there’s no time to debate and no desire to do it. And it’s common for the “good” and “bad” to swap places—the oppressed become oppressors. And even one’s own who don’t share the fever of reprisal become our enemies (we see it happen all around us as it happened in Galilee & Judea where locals were plundered and their houses were burned because they didn’t support “the cause”). All this is common knowledge.
There were those, and there was one in particular, whose kingdom was “not of this world.” He didn’t gain His kingdom by wading through blood as Rome did when it “pacified” nations, “creating a desert (‘a solitude’) and calling it peace.” Still, the pain, the poverty, the humiliation and enslavement goes on and “it is inevitable” that in the grip of evil we will be desperate enough to “do what must be done” to gain freedom from oppressive power (or hold on to it).
But while the chaos, the bitterness, the hatred, fear and unbridled anger were everywhere to be seen and felt, the days came around when thousands gathered in various homes and meeting places and celebrated The Passover. This, an act of trusting defiance reminded the occupying forces of other powerful empires that God brought down and delivered a helpless People whose only power was their conviction that God was faithful and was at work now as He had been in days when it would be hard to believe. There had been other days, other years, when the nation’s most powerful enemy, Pharaoh, was protecting, educating, strengthening and admiring the only boy in the world he needed to destroy to gain his purposes—Moses. Passover spoke of all that and more in a world as chaotic and perplexing as ours is now!
Our Passover has already been offered (1 Corinthians 5:7) and tomorrow (the Lord’s Day) thousands will gather to engage together in Holy Communion and what will we be saying? Is the Lord’s Supper an act of such defiance? Will we be saying something about “the world” in which satanic forces exercise such power or will it be the usual individualistic happiness that “at least I am saved”?
Will John 12:31 or Colossians 2:15 come to mind? Or will it again be all about “me,” all about “us”? Will it be about a God who dismantles evil empires and assures the plundered and raped nations that He knows what is happening to them and that He has a quarrel with those empires on behalf of the voiceless and helpless who don’t even know His name? Their only power is His power and faithfulness; their only hope is in the name of Him whose name they don’t yet know because they’ve never heard it; they’ve never been told it!!!!
Have we nothing to say about them, nothing to say that makes a difference? Must we mumble our sadness, say it’s too bad that they must live plundered and raped and then suffer more, everlastingly and ceaselessly more, along with the exulting predators and parasites that fed on them here and now, life-long? That they’re damned now and everlasting damnation lies ahead and there is no hope for them and then go back to thanking God for our forgiveness and hope? That’s it?
I will not believe it! It isn’t worthy of the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ!
(Holy Father, raise up for us teachers who will come to know you and who will enable us to come to know you that we might think, speak and do things that are worthy of your greatness. Deliver us from, we pray, from narrow views of you and see you as a GOD indeed who is a Great King who in His righteousness we can trust to end all oppression and deliver the truly helpless. This prayer in Jesus Christ.)