Anti-Authority for a Cause

As I read the scriptures earlier this week and while listening again to Luke’s account of Jesus’ final week, days, and minutes, I was reminded of its anti-empire and anti-authority tone.

This tone is not intended to paint Jesus, Luke, or his community as anti-authority punks or rebel without a cause.

The cause was shared in the opening pages of Luke’s Gospel.
The cause is central and foundational throughout the whole.
The cause is the Grand Reversal.

You may recall the Magnificat that Mary sung, which proclaimed it.
You may recall Jesus reading Isaiah in his hometown synagogue, which proclaimed it.
You may recall Jesus’ teaching of the blessings and the woes, which proclaimed it.

But, the Grand Reversal is not a simplistic inverting of the entire field.

The Grand Reversal is when those hording an abundance will no longer exploit those in need and those in need will have all their needs met.

The Grand Reversal is when those who are oppressed by persons and systems will be freed from the oppressor’s control without becoming oppressors themselves.

In essence, the Grand Reversal is when all people are free and all human need it met.

But, this was not Jesus’ world. It is not our world either.

The kingdom, the reign, the realm of God is here in glimpses now, it is near, and it is not yet fulfilled.

Jesus was anti-empire because ‘Pax Romana’ (Peace of Rome) was maintained through fear and military force. Jesus sought peace through social justice, compassion, mercy, and love.

Jesus was anti-authority because, as he noted in our scriptures, those with power and authority lord it over their subjects. Jesus demonstrated and led by servant leadership, which is when those with power and authority lead by example serving those under their authority and care.

Jesus not only lives into this glimpse of the realm of God, he invited the disciples and all people (including ourselves) to live into this new reality.

AND Jesus died because he would not abandon this teaching and its reality even though it offended those in power, those in authority, and those with nothing to gain but everything to lose… especially the religious elite.

May we be anti-empire and anti-authority for a cause as demonstrated by Jesus for the sake of leading as servants fulfilling our baptismal promises to proclaim Christ is word and deed, to seek justice, to act with compassion and mercy, while loving and serving all people despite offending others, fear, or threat.

May it lead to personal, and not physical, death to self and a resurrection into the life that God has and continues to call us each, the church universal, and the world into for the sake of humanity, creation, and God’s name. Amen.

Scripture was Luke 22:14 – 23:56.
Originally preached on 14 April 2019 at Trinity Lutheran (Union City, IN).

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