Resistance movements seem to on the rise recently, in the face of our political polarization in the U.S. But there is a long history of these movements that we should recall. Human beings have banded together to resist many forms of oppression, slavery, taxation without representation, infringement upon human rights, and alcoholic drinks during Prohibition!
But on Palm Sunday, the resistance movement I want to focus on is the Jesus Movement. Christian resistance should be aligned with the things that Jesus himself condemned and resisted in his life – even to the point of dying. What did Jesus resist?
- Jesus resisted the economic degradation brought down on the large peasant class of his day, caused by double taxation (by Rome and by the Temple), indebtedness, and foreclosure of land.
- Jesus resisted hypocrisy (this is one of Jesus’ most detested sins). When people didn’t act in accordance with their own professed beliefs, Jesus responded harshly. The Scribes and the Pharisees saw a lot of this.
- Jesus resisted greed and stinginess. Sharing God’s abundance was Jesus’ agenda. When some people got rich and hoarded, others went hungry. Jesus saw this as idolatry – setting up money as a god to worship.
On this Palm Sunday, we remember those things Jesus resisted. And we also focus on how he resisted. We see here an example of nonviolent resistance, which the world has rarely emulated. Jesus’ nonviolence was hard for even his own disciples to understand. When Jesus was taken prisoner in Luke 22, a disciple struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Jesus not only condemned the attack, he healed the slave’s ear. This is where we get the phrase, “The one who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.”
This Holy Week, ponder what you are resisting in life. Are you resisting what Jesus would resist? What behaviors are acceptable in resistance? What are you prepared to give for Jesus’ Resistance Movement? JBM