Tuesday, August 20, 2013
On Jesus, Justice, and the Garden of Gethsemane
I have studied the Gospel of John for most of the summer. For the most part, my summer preaching came from one or more passages. I am winding the study down and one of the books I have enjoyed is Earl Palmer's "The Intimate Gospel." I read today of the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane where Judas betrayed, Peter had anger issues, Mark left naked and pretty much everything else was chaos--except for Jesus.
Ironically, as I write today, I have jury duty in Orleans Parish Criminal Court. Today, I will see persons who have been arrested and who will hear their future from a jury, perhaps one of which I am a member. Palmer describes the scene better than I ever could:
The temple guards have come to arrest Jesus with the approval of the Pharisees. Jesus accepts the arrest. Each Gospel makes that fact clear, and John adds the comment concerning Jesus' inner feelings. Jesus rejects the sword of Peter as a defense of his honor. He will take care of his own honor.
Peter's act is an act of panic--a sudden flash of impulsive desperation. Throughout the history of Christendom, when Christians have reached for the sword to defend the honor of Christ, the result has dishonored the gospel.
But there is a deeper theological reality present here. Jesus and he alone is to be the world's Savior. The disciples are not able nor are they permitted by Jesus to intervene. . . Jesus has shown to history a new authority and power. He neither evades his captors nor destroys their meager authority of swords and lanterns and accusers. Jesus Christ will prove his kinship in the very midst of the Thursday-Friday intriques that have snared him.
I am a bit wired for justice. I think things should be fair with equal opportunity for everyone who is willing to work. I struggle greatly when powerful people abuse that power whether in government, academia, church or even circles of teenaged friendships.
When I wrap my mind around the identity of Jesus the Justice Giver, I get as excited as the first-century Jews who were sure that Jesus would eradicate Roman control and return the power to them. I want Jesus to make things fair, right, just and equal. But as he demonstrated in the garden, justice will come in his time, his way, and with his finality.
Lord, grant me Your perspective on justice. Let me see the bigger picture of Your Lordship. Let me see the pecking order through Your eyes.