Chaplain Norris Burkes: The failed insurrection
No matter what you’ve read, I can promise you this — the insurrection was put down quickly and decisively. The anarchists occupying the garden never really had a chance.
They barely seemed to know it was coming when the occupying powers, caving to the demand of religious leaders, issued an arrest warrant for their insurgency leader.
“Bring this Jesus to me,” said Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect (governor) of Judaea. “Let’s see what kind of leader he claims to be. Does he think himself their king, their God? If so, I’ll make sure he becomes just another revolutionary nailed to a tree.”
Gaining Pilate’s approval, the deputized posse stormed the Gethsemane Garden, a place where Jesus was known to hang with the homeless. The officers expected a fight, or at least hoped to instigate one. They came armed with clubs and swords.
To be certain of their target, they bribed a Jesus insider, a real Judas, to plant an identifying kiss on Jesus’ cheek.
The subject himself offered no resistance. After all, no matter what the prostitutes and degenerate cripples said, Jesus was just a man.
The only struggle came when a sword-packing follower sliced off a deputy’s ear. Eyewitnesses claimed Jesus miraculously reattached it, but the religious leaders dismissed that as fake news.
Others claimed that Jesus’ quiet surrender paved his way to martyrdom. By the time their claim gained traction, Jesus would become much more than a martyr.
Early the next morning, the pathetic arrestee was hauled before Pilate where the governor asked him if he thought himself to be a king.
No response. Only unassuming surrender.
This is going to be easy,” Pilate must have thought. “I’ll make him king — King of Calvary’s Hill.”
So much for this petty uprising.
“Not so fast,” pleaded the first lady. “I had a bad dream about him. You shouldn’t have anything to do with him.”
“Dreams! Probably just something you ate,” Pilate told his wife.
Then, with a pontific wave, Pilate motioned Jesus into the hands of tormentors who mockingly crowned him with a wreath of puncturing thorns. Nice touch.
In the meantime, Pilate washed his hands. Just another day living in the dream seat of power. Insurrection squashed.
By Friday afternoon, it was a done deal. Even Jesus knew it by then: “It is finished!”
The government prosecution of the fledgling rebellion was far-reaching and absolute. The orders were signed and sealed, then executed with the utmost prejudice.
But Pilate had looked at this all wrong.
He, as well as the religious folks who’d concocted the charges, had operated under the misguided assumption that the coup would come by force.
You can’t blame them. It was also the shared assumption of Jesus’ disciples, including Judas, their disgruntled group treasurer.
It was only Friday, but Sunday was coming.
Such Friday assumptions are often shared by Christians two thousand years later. There are people who claim in Jesus’ name that they must defend God’s Kingdom by force or intimidation.
They go to their school board meetings with open Bibles demanding that certain books be removed. Others threaten county supervisors while decisions are debated about health and quarantine.
Sadly, some even take their swords and clubs to the steps of the nation’s capital where they hope to reinstate their king.
Some seek to advance God’s Kingdom by packing the nation’s highest or through recalling California’s governor. Yet, they find that righteousness can’t be legislated.
Easter tells me that God’s Kingdom won’t be established through votes, protest marches, or mob rule by either side. Liberals will never bring the Kingdom of God by legislating an earthly utopia and conservatives cannot morph God’s Kingdom into Christian Nationalism.
Jesus made this point when he was asked in Luke 17:21 when the kingdom of God would come.
“The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you” (Message Translation).
Sadly, some still look for the Kingdom insurrection in all the wrong places.
On that long-ago first Easter morning, when a few women dared enter Jesus’ empty tomb, they were confronted by angels, asking, “Why do you seek the living among the dead. The one you are looking for is risen” (Luke 24:6).
The words were final witness to the fact that God’s Kingdom has never been about an insurrection.
His Kingdom has always pointed toward the Resurrection, both his and ours.
Chaplain Norris is available to speak to your church, civic or veteran group, hospital, or college. Please email him for details at Norris@thechaplain.net or leave voicemail at 843-608-9715. His past column and his books are available on his website, http://www.thechaplain.net
I’ve written this column for twenty years in dozens of papers, so writer’s block can be a problem, especially around the holidays. Fortunately, it’s rarely my problem on Independence Day.
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