After three years of intense teaching, preaching, praying, review, practical application of kingdom principles, talking together, more review, wrangling over the details, questions, more questions, clarifications, crowds, acclamation, rejection, enthusiasm, accusation, light-bulb moments, struggle, triumph, and so much more… Jesus invited his followers to a dinner party, where they broke bread together and God-in-the-flesh spoke extensively about his mission, and what he expected of them – expects of us – after he was gone.
Jesus went over the highlights one more time.
Jesus persisted. The Great Teacher taught, rephrased, told parables, and lived by example. But his style of teaching was so foreign – so radical and so personal – to the way they were used to considering God. It was an approach markedly unusual in a harsh world where life was often dirt-cheap and the last anyone expected of a deity was compassion. – Reaching Toward Easter p 21
The world has not changed all that much over two thousand years. Extremism, division, intimidation, and brute force are still the favored agents of political change, and “leadership” is to often advertised as the will to use force rather than the commitment to love, to heal, and to invite into the kingdom.
The political phrase, “I’ll do what it takes” typically reveals a lack of understanding regarding what it really does take to effect radical, lasting change. Jesus knew, and his father’s “beat swords into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks” ethos remains the only approach to change that has any depth, and holds the promise of peace: “My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:26-27).
And so Jesus rode into the Holy City on a donkey, with crowds cheering and shouts of acclamation. It was a powerful statement.
But Jesus failed to capitalize on the parade – at least in the way his friends expected. He refused to pander to the mob, chose not to incite a riot, and sidestepped the temptation to overpower the resident authorities and claim an earthly throne, a kingdom locked into time and space. Instead, he took his disciples aside for one last meal together, broke bread with them, and again dropped the bombshell that he was going to die. “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:7).
“Excuse me?” his friends must have said. “Would you run that by us again? We were just getting used to the servant stuff, and we really liked the whole Triumphal Entry thing….”
“So listen already,” Jesus must have said, “while I go over the highlights one more time.” – Reaching Toward Easter p 21-22
Listen again! Listen to the invitation of Jesus to model the quality of leadership he demonstrated, an approach to radical change that is still rejected, still dismissed as impractical, still foreign to almost everyone who wants to be elected, and still the only way that has ever worked.
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave;just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:24-28