Saturday, August 03, 2013

A Time for War ..

They called themselves the Zealots because they were zealous for the restoration of Israel’s power. They longed for the overthrow of Rome, and would do whatever they could to subvert the oppressor’s domination. Some of them, as happens in any cause, were brutes who were attracted by the opportunity for violence and personal gain, but many were men who embraced a noble cause. They remembered the promises to Abraham, especially the promise of the Land, and they believed that the restoration of their sovereignty over their own nation (and beyond) was part of that promise. To that end they were waiting for a Messiah who would give them back their rightful place in the world.

And now a likely candidate had appeared. He healed the sick and fed the hungry, he made the lame walk, the blind see and the deaf hear, it was even rumoured he could raise the dead to life. Surely he was the one who would accomplish victory over Rome! And now he had come to Jerusalem at the Passover, the time when all true Israelites were gathered for the feast, a ready-made army who, divinely empowered, with this Jesus at their head, would overthrow the might of Rome. It was a time for war ..


They saw themselves as the guardians of Israel’s holiness. They knew the Law, and they knew all the other laws that they had devised for themselves as a hedge of protection around it, so that it could not be accidentally transgressed. They knew their history, they knew that violation of the covenant had led to exile from the Land, and they were determined this should never happen again. So they set about creating a visible form of religion that would set the faithful apart from the faithless. They would keep the Law so perfectly that no one could ever accuse them of failure.

But now somebody was accusing them! For a long time this miracle worker, this homespun backwoods preacher, had been disturbing the religious equilibrium, and painting a very different picture of God to the one they taught. Was he going to be another failed revolutionary who would bring down the wrath of Rome upon them and disturb the delicate balance of power? Or would his engaging stories of shepherds and Samaritans alienate their own following? And now he had come out and openly attacked them. Being called whitewashed tombs, or a brood of vipers is very hard to forgive. But he was in Jerusalem, he could be silenced. It was a time for war ..

His heart was heavy, He knew that the time had come. Around Him the beloved faces whispered and wondered. How long would it take them to understand that a greater Passover was about to unfold? He broke the bread, saying “This is my body  ...”  He took up the cup saying , “This is my blood ..” and He felt the full weight of the sentence about to be passed. Before tomorrow’s sunset, His body would be tortured to death, His blood would be poured out, and He would be crushed beneath the weight of humanity’s terror and despair. There was no other way, and there was no one else who could do it. For this reason He had come into the world. There was a battle to be fought, and the only way to win it was to be utterly defeated. The price must be paid, and sin and death and hell must be overcome. And these, whom He loved, would have to walk through the darkness of grief and loss and despair until the victory would be revealed.

He rose from the table and bid them come with Him to the Mount of Olives. For one last time He must rest in the Father’s love before all was stripped away. It was a time for war ..

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