Friday, 11 April 2014

Lent day 37 - Christ the king

There are lots of  overlaps between today's reading, which is most of Mark 14 and the past two passages, so my emphasis is on the trial of Jesus in verses 53-65.

The trial was truly a kangaroo court - with conflicting evidence and false witnesses, and a twisting of the truth. The trial is one of blasphemy, but in an age where politics and religion were not separate, the question "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" is ultimately both. Son of the Blessed One is also a Messianic title, not a statement of ontological identity with God.

Jesus' response was what they wanted - not that it was true - for it got Jesus on a charge of blasphemy. He acknowledges that he is the Messiah, but then adds a reference to Daniel 7 when he said

"‘you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power,’
and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven. "

In Daniel 7, the Son of Man (a human one) goes to the Ancient of Days (a name for God) on the clouds of heaven, to be given "dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed."

So the blasphemy is that Jesus claimed this authority for himself. Bye bye temple authorities, Rome, all empires and pretensions to power. Dominion is a word we shrink from, it carries with it ideas of domination. Likewise, the idea of serving someone else carries ideas of servitude and slavery.

Yet quite apart from the fact that the church declares Jesus as God - and therefore deserving of all of this - what we learn of the character of Jesus tells us that dominion does not mean being dominated but wooed, loved and cared for. Indeed, Jesus pathway to being seat at the right hand of God is via the cross: the supreme act of love and identification with wandering humanity.

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