Resurrection, Part Two
On the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey from the east, another procession was entering the city from the west. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Idumea, Judea and Samaria led a column of imperial cavalry and soldiers into Jerusalem. Jesus’ procession was marked by palm branches. Pilate’s procession was marked by swords and spears. Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Pilate came proclaiming the kingdom of Caesar. Pilate exercised force. Jesus exercised submission.
These two kingdoms would collide on the cross. To those who watched Jesus’ execution, it appeared that once again the kingdom of Caesar prevailed. On that Friday that we call “good” it seemed as though the corrupt systems of worldly power won yet another battle. Until resurrection changed it all.
Jesus’ resurrection is far more than a promise of personal salvation. It is an announcement of global revolution. The resurrection announces that Jesus is Lord of all creation. That was a radical and dangerous idea when Caesar was lord. And it still is. As was true on that Good Friday it still appears most days that the corrupt systems of worldly power are winning the day, but we are a people called to live in hope as citizens of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus’ resurrection is not just a gift; it’s a call. It’s a call to align our lives with the One who framed his agenda in the words of the prophet Isaiah,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free…” (Luke 4:18)
Under Jesus’ reign the poor are elevated, the marginalized are embraced, the stranger and the alien are welcomed, the weak are empowered, the sick are healed and the enemy is given the other cheek. These are not practical strategies for running a kingdom. They weren’t practical in Jesus’ day either. But they are the way of Jesus.
Resurrection calls us to both praise and protest. We praise the One who has conquered death and is making all things new. And we protest against injustice. We stand against any system that ignores or abuses the poor and the powerless. As followers of Jesus, we daily die to ourselves, daring to believe that the meek will inherit the earth, that the last shall be first and that God’s power is made perfect in weakness.
The resurrection is both deeply personal and profoundly political. We embrace the gift and the hope of heaven, and we live as we pray, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Jeff Marian is the lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.