Jesus Is a Loser
#JesusIsALoser is the podcast for April 9, 2017. When you look at Christ from a worldly perspective on Palm/Passion Sunday, he could be seen as a loser. What does that mean to a community that looks to him for their life? Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Matthew27 #Matthew #JimBakker #Frauds #Liars #Jealousy #Charlatan #CurtainTornInTwo #Earthquakes
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For My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 4/9/2017 Palm Sunday.
Please pause this audio and read Matthew 27:11-54.
Jesus is a loser.
For those of us who know the end of the story, the Easter story, we know that the unlawful conviction before Pilate is a fulfillment of Isaiah 53 and 57. We know he is the suffering servant who is like a lamb before the slaughter who is silently killed. Jesus says nothing. We know that the rest of this is a playing out of Psalm 22 where he is beaten as he is “surrounded by evil doers”. Even his cry of abandonment on the Cross is the opening line of the 22nd Psalm: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani”, or “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
We, who come and bow down before him; we who revere the image of his crucifixion every week, we know that he is the King. Yet, for our true experience of this Holy Week, let us step back and look at the events from a perspective without faith.
For most of us, we will have walked into the church waving palms singing something along the lines of “Shout Hosanna” or “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed”. The crowds in the Gospel couldn’t get any bigger. The people were sacrificing money they did not have to allow a donkey to walk on their cloaks. They laid them out on the ground for Jesus as the new King. The people were shouting “Hosanna” which means literally, “Please save us!”
In his train are apostles, the 12; then disciples. All the people who had heard of his healings, his wisdom, his raising Lazarus from the dead and such, all of them were coming out to laud and adore him. The mere spectacle of the thing is crazy AND dangerous. For the leaders of the Jews who were jealous already, enough was enough. For the Roman authorities, who kept a tight reign on popular uprisings, they had enough, too. It is when Jesus has reached his apex of glory on earth that the end comes and comes swiftly, a matter of days.
The religious authorities have him arrested and Jesus comes up against the full brunt of worldly authority. Surely, he can free himself, but he says nothing and is not. The people cast him as a fraud and abandon him. The soldiers seize on the “Hosanna King” fallen and beat him mercilessly, mock him savagely, and spit on him in disgrace. My! How the mighty have fallen! He has no worldly authority.
The religious people who knew he would fall, they stand before a man beaten almost to death, so bad he couldn’t carry his crossbeam to his own crucifixion, they mock him. Where is Elijah? Where are the angels who are at his service? Where is the power of the so called “Son of God?”
Like the preacher Jim Bakker. Charming, a great showman, a man who understood how to inspire people to give money, lots and lots of money, Bakker was exposed as a fraud in 1987. He had sold thousands of “lifetime memberships” to a theme park that had one 500 room hotel. Or, like preacher Robert Tilton who promised to pray for your mailed prayer request, if you happen to send a little cash with it. It was revealed by ABC’s 20/20 that the prayer requests were thrown in the trash and the cash was not. Both were wildly famous and dropped like a stone. Yet, they had amassed enough money to make it through the storm and still have a life after fame.
Jesus, on the other hand, had no money, no lawyers, no one to back him. His movement was so pathetic that everyone abandoned him when he fell, not like a stone, like a boulder from grace. Here, the guy who people said raised a man from the dead and was going to be the King, is hanging on a cross, crucified by earthly power, earthly religion, and earthly popularity. They didn’t even kill him with the revolutionaries. He was hung on the cross with the common criminals. He had to be a fraud.
The longer I live, the more I give spiritual direction, the more I serve people through the diaconate, and I am sure in the coming priesthood, Those who work in corporate America or in a very large and wealthy church can tell you that jealousy is a main reason for the demise of many. The view from those who hate your success is much different than from those who love you, isn’t it? Those who hate you are suspicious. Those who hate you see your successes because of luck or your conniving manipulation of events. Those who love you celebrate your talent, your wit, you charm, your goodness.
Those who hate you have the conclusion for which the facts cement a reality. Those who love you are wondering what kind of surprise you are going to come up with next. On this earth, though, where destruction is the only guaranteed success, innocence, goodness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and integrity are seen as weaknesses to be exploited and overcome in a Machiavellian world. Material success and power are the earth’s pinnacle.
If we should follow Jesus Christ, this loser hanging to death, we will have to reject all of these notions of success. We would have to stand and look at a crucifix with a different perspective. Our perspective would have to question what is truly worthy in this world. Our idea of a hero would have to change. Our measure of a man would have to be different.
For the cross to be anything but the sign of a charming blow hard who had us all fooled with his ‘healing the sick,” “raising the dead,” “promising us a kingdom,” we would have to see life on a different plane. We would have to acknowledge that there is good and evil. We would have to acknowledge that there is a spiritual battle for all. We would need to become suspicious of comfort, wary of our desires to have more than we really need, suspect of heroes and public idols.
We would have to embrace the idea that personal sacrifice for the salvation of many is a noble and admirable trait. We would have to judge ourselves and others by the content of our character and not the size of our lives. “Supersize” would become a metaphor for our fat and sassy demise.
It might be said that when it was all said and done, Jesus is a failure this Sunday. He had no house. He had no chariot. He had no servants. He had to borrow an animal to ride into town. He had no wife; no children. He had no cape. He had no shop. He had no farm. He had no money. He had no scepter. He had no kingdom. He had no followers.
Then, tucked away as a little note, a small thing after the big event, we have this: “The curtain of the temple was torn in two…,the earth shook, …rocks were split; the tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints who had falled asleep were raised.”
Jesus is a Loser, until he wasn’t. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2017.
Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian