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Trusting in hatred and force made Jesus weep

January 19, 2024
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Daily Scripture

Luke 19:41-44, Matthew 26:51-52

Luke 19
41 As Jesus came to the city and observed it, he wept over it. 42 He said, “If only you knew on this of all days the things that lead to peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 The time will come when your enemies will build fortifications around you, encircle you, and attack you from all sides. 44 They will crush you completely, you and the people within you. They won’t leave one stone on top of another within you, because you didn’t recognize the time of your gracious visit from God.”

Matthew 26
51 One of those with Jesus reached for his sword. Striking the high priest’s slave, he cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put the sword back into its place. All those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I’m not able to ask my Father and he will send to me more than twelve battle groups [Or legions (of the Roman army, about five thousand soldiers each)] of angels right away?”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

From a transcript of Dr. King’s sermon “Loving Your Enemies” (Nov. 17, 1957): “Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love…. Jesus says love because hate destroys the hater as well as the hated.” *

When Jesus wept over Jerusalem, as Luke 19 reported, it was not just a generic “spiritual” issue that broke his heart. “Some [Jewish] teachers were now advocating a sort of ‘wisdom’ that would soon lead to a failed revolt against Rome and massive suffering (AD 66–70).” * That widespread attitude was hiding “the things that lead to peace.” Jesus’ response to Peter in the garden carried the same message: force and the hatred it nearly always creates just triggers more force and hatred.

  • Read Dr. King’s words again: “Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.” History has many examples of what Dr. King called “the chain of hate and the chain of evil.” Hatred most often simply leads to more hatred. But it’s not just between nations, but in personal relations. Have you, or someone you cared about, ever had to try to stop a “descending spiral” of anger and hatred?
  • In the Advent series about angels, we studied Jesus’ words to Peter. Peter tried a typical armed response to those arresting Jesus. Jesus said much more force was available than Peter’s one sword. But “Jesus consistently resists the use of force as a sign of the kingdom (e.g., Matthew 10:7–10, cf. Luke 22:49–51).” ** Do you think Jesus told Peter to put the sword away because he felt helpless, or because he knew his self-giving love was the path to victory, not defeat?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, we sometimes picture you as weak and inoffensive. Remind me that you and your example changed the world so much more powerfully than all those Roman swords and swordsmen. Amen.

GPS Insights

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe and his wife, Doris, first met in a Resurrection Single Adult Sunday School class in 1997 and were married in what is now the Student Center. They are empty nesters with 2 college-aged sons, Matthew and Jacob. Darren serves as a Couples Small Group co-leader & Men's Group Leader, while volunteering in a variety of other capacities at Resurrection.

To better understand today’s theme, I thought it would be helpful to “visit” with Dr. O’Skopee, a specialist in infectious diseases.

DL: Dr. O’Skopee, thanks for your time. Your profession has been in the news quite a bit the past few years.

Colin O’Skopee: Please call me Colin. Tell me about it. People have become increasingly worried about the latest outbreak of infectious diseases. Back when I was a teenager, they only illness I focused on was Saturday Night Fever. Nowadays, people are getting so paranoid that any reference to a disease is blown out of proportion. It even forced my favorite chicken restaurant, “Sam & Ella’s” to shut down.

DL: It does seem that we are hyping medical-related news. Like the husband who called his wife & excitedly says, “Honey, you won’t believe it! They’re going to name a disease after me!” But, you claim there is a bigger challenge we as a community are facing.

Colin O’Skopee: Yes, despite all of our worrying over infectious medical diseases, I would submit we face an even graver epidemic: Hate. It has been shocking to see how easily hate can spread regardless of faith, political views, or culture. For example, you can have someone boast how tolerant they are in one sentence & in the very next sentence loudly proclaim how much they hate law enforcement officers, or hate an entire religion, or hate someone who prefers a different political policy. With social media, this hatred festers in an echo-chamber that allows a constant reaffirmation of one’s own views, until one feels smugly justified wallowing in their loathing.

DL: Okay, Doctor, then what is the cure?

Colin O’Skopee: The Cure was a rock-band from England in the ‘80’s, but that’s not important right now. The cure is the theme Jesus introduced 2,000 years ago that was amplified by Dr. King in the ‘60’s: Love. 
First, I would suggest that we have to believe we are actually loved by God. This sense of awe that the God of the Universe genuinely cares for our well-being & wants us to live a life well-lived will help reduce the feelings of insecurity, fear or mistrust that encourages thoughts of hate. As my young son would say, “I’m awesome, because God doesn’t make junk.”
Secondly, we have to feel we are worthy of love & strive to be content with our own lives. We need to quit comparing ourselves to others on social media & love ourselves as we are–flaws & all. This will reduce feelings of envy & resentment that tempt us to despise people who we perceive as more living a more fabulous life than us.
Finally, I would submit that we need to share love with others. Have empathy for others & seek to humanize them, i.e. see them as people just like us, who have the same desires in life. Seek to be a better listener & not just listen with the intent to rebut whatever they say. Then genuinely hope & pray for the best for others & strive to help everyone live their lives to the fullest.

DL: I don’t want to jump to a rash conclusion, but do you really think this is workable?

Colin O’Skopee: A virus isn’t the only thing that can be contagious. Check out this video:
Spreading the joy of laughter on a train (youtube.com)

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/loving-your-enemies-sermon-delivered-dexter-avenue-baptist-church
** Article “Army/Armies” in in Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III, general editors, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998, p. 48.