Dave Brisbin 3.28.21
Palm Sunday. When Jesus rides into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, he brings with him a trail of clues to answer the question everyone is asking: Who is this Jesus of Nazareth? His public life’s work, his teaching, even the colt of a donkey he rides are answering this question for anyone who’s really paying attention, yet no one is seeing who really rides that little burro. We all see only what our fears—expressed as wants and needs—allow us to see. And what the people and followers of Jesus see is a savior who will deliver them from oppression and anonymity. But what the authorities see—both Jewish and Roman—is a threat to their power bases in which they are so invested. As with every time Jesus rides into our lives, he presents a paradox: is he a savior or a threat? If we’re afraid of change, relying on whatever status quo we’ve invested, then Jesus is a threat to our power base. But if we’re afraid things will not change, if we’re oppressed or marginalized, then Jesus is savior come to fix our problems.

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Now we would immediate say that Jesus is our savior, but allowing paradox to do its work in us, is for us to allow the paradox to stand long enough to do its work. Can we resist the knee-jerk reaction to choose one side or the other, make one side right and the other wrong long enough to see the deeper truth beyond the seeming contradiction? If we say Jesus is our savior, not a threat, we will miss how Jesus saves and from what, because the truth of this paradox is that Jesus can’t be our savior until he’s first a threat…a threat to all our powerbases: everything we hold dear, take pride in, use to advantage. Until everything we’ve piled up in our lives out of fear is cleared out, we can’t even see what we need to be saved from. Jesus is not riding into our lives to save us from oppression or save us from our problems. He’s here to save us from the fear that keeps that oppression and those problems in place, and until we let Jesus threaten all we’ve built out of fear, he can’t save us from the fear itself. The truth will make us free from fear, but only if it first threatens everything made of fear on which we rely. Jesus is my savior and my threat…but not necessarily in that order.

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