Our Lenten Adult Classes this year focused on the material in a book by John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg titled The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’ Final Days in Jerusalem. Inspiration to write this book hit the authors after the release of the controversial film The Passion of the Christ. In the process of responding to questions about that movie, they soon realized that very few people possessed a working knowledge of the details of what occurred between Palm Sunday and the Resurrection.
Crossan and Borg set out to address this problem, and the result was released in February of 2006. They focus mostly on events as recounted in Mark’s Gospel account. Each chapter focuses on one of the days in Holy Week, and the authors use the lens of public protest as a way to interpret events leading up to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. They believe that the Gospel accounts illustrate clearly Jesus’ commitment to denouncing what they term “domination systems:” the injustice of Roman occupation and the guilt of any local authority that collaborated with it.
The book is very interesting. I recommend it, even as we have just experienced our yearly commemoration of that last week. I was tasked with leading the discussion on Palm Sunday, where the authors discussed the differences between Pontius Pilate’s imperial parade and the less ceremonial (but no less intense and impassioned) triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. And near the end of that chapter, the authors posed a question: in which parade do we find ourselves? Which group do we join—not just with our ideology or our theology, but with our lives lived on the ground. Is our allegiance to empire or to social justice? Do we identify with the use principle or with love?
I pose these questions simply here, but I know they are complex and not as binary as they seem on the surface. Still, Eastertide is a time when we give clear and intentional focus to the resurrection and embrace the new life it promises for all. We have celebrated, and we have rejoiced. As we bring our joy beyond Easter Sunday and out into the world, where do we locate ourselves? We know we are redeemed by God’s sacrificial love for us in Jesus Christ. Such knowledge challenges us to act; to engage the world insisting that this same love is all the foundational inspiration we need to work and pray and live for others in His name.