Formations lesson for April 8: Domination and death
March 22 2001 by Ken Vandergriff , Luke 22:14-23:56

Formations lesson for April 8: Domination and death | Friday, March 23, 2001

Friday, March 23, 2001

Formations lesson for April 8: Domination and death

By Ken Vandergriff Luke 22:14-23:56 At the center of Christian faith stands the crucifixion of Jesus. Like a bad automobile wreck, its horror and death repulse us, while at the same time it mesmerizes us; we are drawn to it in fascination. The crucifixion should make us uneasy. It should make us uncomfortable when we see the actions and attitudes of those around Jesus, both believers and enemies, and recognize that all too often their attitudes are ours. It should make us uneasy when we ask about the necessity of it. Why was there no other way than the cruel death of this supremely good and innocent person? What does that say about human depravity?

Looking out for me (Luke 22:14-30) Only Luke records this dispute about greatness in the context of the last supper that Jesus shared with his disciples - what a juxtaposition. Jesus has uttered those shocking and bewildering words; "This is my body, which is given for you. ... This cup is the new covenant in my blood." Meanwhile, the disciples argued about which one was greatest.

For three years Jesus had taught by word and example that the kingdom of God was a kingdom of service, not status. Yet, while Jesus faced His most significant hour, they were looking out for themselves, still seeking status, grasping for personal domination over one another. Their attitude was a betrayal of Jesus every bit as real as Judas' betrayal.

Lest we too quickly criticize the disciples, let's remember that our attitudes often mirror theirs. The will to dominate is a typical human attitude. And we, like they, lose sight of our Lord as we look out for ourselves.

Striking back with violence (Luke 22:47-53) When Jesus was arrested, one of his disciples, Peter according to John 18:10 but unnamed by Luke, lashed out with the sword. Better to go down fighting than to go quietly. Jesus, however, rejected domination through violence.

Alan Culpepper asks, "What do we do when our intent is good but there are no good means at hand by which we can accomplish it? The disciples failed because they allowed frustration and fear to lead them to violence" (New Interpreter's Bible commentary, 9:437).

When we are in situations of overwhelming stress, our real selves show. Tact and decorum tend to fade under stress. One common reaction to stress is lashing out, striking with violence. Even if we don't turn to physical violence, it should make us uncomfortable to recognize how often frustration and fear cause us to lash out in other unacceptable ways.

Giving in to the crowd (Luke 23:1-25) It is notable that, in Luke 23, Pilate declared Jesus innocent three times (vv. 4, 14, 22). Shrewd politician that he was, Pilate recognized that certain leaders wanted Jesus eliminated; they brought trumped-up charges against Him, but Pilate saw through their ruse. Nevertheless, he did not have the fortitude to continue resisting them or to dismiss their charges altogether. Pilate caved in to public pressure; the pressure from Jesus' enemies dominated him.

His action makes us uneasy because we realize that sometimes we do the same. We "go along to get along."

Defeating domination (Luke 23:39-56) Sometimes faith appears in the most unlikely persons and the unlikeliest of circumstances. Given Jesus' situation at that moment, the responses of the one criminal (vv. 41-42), the Roman centurion (v. 47), and the crowd (v. 48) are remarkable. In one sense, they all saw the same thing; they saw a man in a hopeless situation, being crucified in the same way that hundreds both before and after Jesus were crucified. They saw the domination of the ruling classes, both Jewish and Roman, silencing one considered an enemy. For those who believed Jesus innocent, his death was another confirmation that life is the "same-old same-old." Injustice dominates, goodness dies.

However, there was something more. The way He submitted to domination suggested that something more was occurring here. That something more was immediately recognized by the criminal and the centurion, and it planted a seed of thought in others that blossomed in later reflection on the crucifixion. By submitting to domination, He had actually defeated it. This is a paradox; we will do well not to hurry past it.

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3/22/2001 11:00:00 PM by Ken Vandergriff , Luke 22:14-23:56 | with 0 comments
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