Wresting with Jesus
“Jesus is not the warrior king the world is accustomed to… Jesus refused to be the violent Messiah Israel longed for. Jesus did not kill Pilate and drag the governor’s body behind his chariot. Jesus did not pose triumphantly over the dead bodies of slain Roman soldiers. Instead it was Jesus who hung naked on a tree after being put to death through a state-sponsored execution. Jesus founded his kingdom in solidarity with brutalized victims. This is the gospel, but it’s hard for us to believe in a Jesus who would rather die than kill his enemies. It’s harder yet to believe in a Jesus who calls us to take up our own cross, follow him, and be willing to die rather than kill our enemies.”
Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:21-27
This week’s quote is taken from an essay by pastor and author Brian Zahnd, which we encourage you to read in full. Click here to read.
The title of that essay says it all: “It’s hard to follow Jesus.” When you sign up for Christianity, you sign up for a faith that says you’re going to have a bit of trouble. You’re going to run counter to the prevailing culture. You’re going to endure hardship. And while we would never recommend seeking out martyrdom nor looking for persecution behind every piece of legislation proposed by the political party you disagree with, we would encourage you this week to examine yourself. Get a notepad and write down the ways you find difficulty in pursuing your faith. Do you take it easy? Do you rationalize methods of sidestepping the difficult obstacles that an honest pursuit of your faith would take you over? Look over your list. What changes, if any, do you need to make in the way you live?
Ask questions, share thoughts and wrestle together about your experiences from the material this week.