by Bruce Gold – Custodian / Valpo FUMC
My wife’s new hero is Theodore Roosevelt. He once said, “speak softly and carry a big stick” This could just as well be said by our hero, Jesus Christ. Being a member of the Trinity gave Jesus the biggest stick imaginable. But Jesus was better known for speaking softly. Our author, A. W. Tozer, laments the image of gentle Jesus, meek and mild. It is an image that he accuses our Protestant churches of perpetuating. This Jesus, who weakly acquiesces to the ones who seized and persecuted Him, seemingly represents the thinking of the modern church. He describes Jesus as “the helpless Christ of the crucifix and the vacuous-countenanced Christ that looks out in sweet innocence from the walls of our evangelical homes…”. He is not in awe of the Jesus who practiced what He preached and turned the other cheek. Still, I am not quite sure how Jesus could have fulfilled His destiny and died on the cross, if He hadn’t been captured by the Pharisees, handed over to the Romans and acquiesced quietly to their accusations. One cannot have Easter Sunday without Good Friday.
Who is Jesus? Is He the teacher who requires us to turn the other cheek or is He the outraged overturner of tables? Is He both? Jesus was a missionary who came from a household of untold riches (the Kingdom of Heaven) to lead a small mission team in a poor and subjugated country. He came to teach and to heal. He came to reorganize His Father’s operation, which had been mismanaged for centuries. And, of course, He came to redeem His people and forgive them of their sins.
When Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, His followers were demoralized, but we know that the story did not end there. On Easter Sunday, Jesus vindicated Himself and gave His followers a triumphant victory. Tozer complains that we Protestants are stuck in Good Friday and are ignoring the Good News of the third day. Jesus had at His command, an army of angels, but chose instead to be humiliated, beaten and crucified. As, centuries before, Isaiah had prophesied, “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth…”. Jesus chose to appear helpless and defeated, in order that He could defy the rules of the secular world and rise victorious on Easter morning.
So, yes, we are the church of the cross and of Good Friday. But, yes, we are the church of the triumph, the victory, the resurrection: the Good News!