Bible Study on Sundays – Looking Ahead
Why should a Progressive congregation do Bible Study? Rev. Mark Sandlin has something to say about that:
“Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem – humbly riding into town, bouncing around on the back of a previously unridden ass as people gathered to greet him singing and shouting, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord,” signals that Easter is going to be a story about confronting The Powers That Be.
You see, in stark contrast, the actual ruler of the region, Prefect Pontius Pilate, basically the Governor would have made quite a different entrance. As Rome’s official authority, he would have paraded through the front of the city’s gates on a mighty steed while surrounded by Roman soldiers.
The Easter story happens as folks are gathering in Jerusalem to observe Passover – the annual commemoration of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt to escape a repressive, enslaving government. So, it happens in a setting that recalls the power of the people when it comes to escaping tyrannical and oppressive regimes.
As you might imagine, Rome, actually BEING a repressive government, would have been somewhat weary of this kind of celebration. The Romans certainly didn’t want the Hebrew people to get any ideas about another Exodus, this time from the occupying Roman government.
And Jesus, after his humble entrance into Jerusalem, and seemingly out of character, enters into the Temple courtyard and strikes at the heart of a main source of the religious institute’s funding. The moneychangers and traders who had set up shop in the Temple used their monopoly to take advantage of the mostly-poor travelers who came to the city to pay their taxes.
Since the religious institute and the government were closely tied, Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple was the beginning of the end. He’d gone from an annoying sideshow (along with all the other supernaturally endowed teachers of his time) to being a viable threat to the state.
From that point on, the storyline gives us a reality check as to how far the Powers were willing to go to protect their status and wealth.
It’s a story that continues to echo in the world today. We can look to the life story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and remember how far American politicians and some of the people are willing to go to obstruct voting and civil rights.
Confronting The Powers That Be can be dangerous work. It should not be taken lightly. It can be unsettling, unnerving, and downright frightening. The Powers That Be will not go down gently – they never do. They will use every tool available to them to maintain their status, wealth, and control.
In confronting them, we risk our good name, our freedom, and even our lives.
Or as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
The Easter story is a not-so-gentle reminder of how much is required to resist powerful and oppressive forces, and it is a reminder of how far The Powers That Be will go to protect their power.
The Good News is that Easter’s conclusion is a reminder that it’s also the story of how far love will go for the sake of divine justice.
In the end, Easter is a story of confronting those who would use their power to oppress others and the real risks that go along with it.
Ultimately, though, Easter is the story of the resurrecting power of love and hope.
~ Rev. Mark Sandlin”
After Sunday, April 30th, the final day of the season for the ongoing morning Bible Study group with Rick Spalding and Dick Ford will be Sunday, May 7th.