Jesus as “The Other”

Mark 15:1 As soon as it was morning, the head cohanim held a council meeting with the elders, the Torah-teachers and the whole Sanhedrin. Then they put Yeshua in chains, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. 2 Pilate put this question to him: “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “The words are yours.” 3 The head cohanim too made accusations against him,4 and Pilate again inquired of him, “Aren’t you going to answer? Look how many charges they are making against you!” 5 But Yeshua made no further response, to Pilate’s amazement.
6 Now during a festival, Pilate used to set free one prisoner, whomever the crowd requested. 7 There was in prison among the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection a man called Bar-Abba. 8 When the crowd came up and began asking Pilate to do for them what he usually did, 9 he asked them, “Do you want me to set free for you the ‘King of the Jews’?” 10 For it was evident to him that it was out of jealousy that the headcohanim had handed him over. 11 But the head cohanim stirred up the crowd to have him release Bar-Abba for them instead. 12 Pilate again said to them, “Then what should I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Put him to death on the stake!” 14 He asked, “Why? What crime has he committed?” But they only shouted louder, “Put him to death on the stake!” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the mob, set Bar-Abba free for them; but he had Yeshua whipped and then handed him over to be executed on the stake.
16 The soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the headquarters building) and called together the whole battalion. 17 They dressed him in purple and wove thorn branches into a crown, which they put on him.18 Then they began to salute him, “Hail to the King of the Jews!” 19 They hit him on the head with a stick, spat on him and kneeled in mock worship of him. 20 When they had finished ridiculing him, they took off the purple robe, put his own clothes back on him and led him away to be nailed to the execution-stake.
21 A certain man from Cyrene, Shim‘on, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country; and they forced him to carry the stake. 22 They brought Yeshua to a place called Gulgolta (which means “place of a skull”), 23 and they gave him wine spiced with myrrh, but he didn’t take it. 24 Then they nailed him to the execution-stake; and they divided his clothes among themselves, throwing dice to determine what each man should get. 25 It was nine in the morning when they nailed him to the stake.26 Over his head, the written notice of the charge against him read,
27 On execution-stakes with him they placed two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 28 [a] 29 People passing by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! So you can destroy the Temple, can you, and rebuild it in three days? 30 Save yourself and come down from the stake!”31 Likewise, the head cohanim and the Torah-teachers made fun of him, saying to each other, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself!” 32 and, “So he’s the Messiah, is he? The King of Isra’el? Let him come down now from the stake! If we see that, then we’ll believe him!” Even the men nailed up with him insulted him.
33 At noon, darkness covered the whole Land until three o’clock in the afternoon. 34 At three, he uttered a loud cry, “Elohi! Elohi! L’mah sh’vaktani?”(which means, “My God! My God! Why have you deserted me?”)[b] 35 On hearing this, some of the bystanders said, “Look! He’s calling for Eliyahu!”36 One ran and soaked a sponge in vinegar, put it on a stick and gave it to him to drink.[c] “Wait!” he said, “Let’s see if Eliyahu will come and take him down.” 37 But Yeshua let out a loud cry and gave up his spirit. 38 And theparokhet in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw the way he gave up his spirit, he said, “This man really was a son of God!”
40 There were women looking on from a distance; among them were Miryam from Magdala, Miryam the mother of the younger Ya‘akov and of Yosi, and Shlomit. 41 These women had followed him and helped him when he was in the Galil. And many other women were there who had come up with him to Yerushalayim.
42 Since it was Preparation Day (that is, the day before a Shabbat), as evening approached, 43 Yosef of Ramatayim, a prominent member of theSanhedrin who himself was also looking forward to the Kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Yeshua’s body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead, so he summoned the officer and asked him if he had been dead awhile. 45 After he had gotten confirmation from the officer that Yeshua was dead, he granted Yosef the corpse. 46 Yosef purchased a linen sheet; and after taking Yeshua down, he wrapped him in the linen sheet, laid him in a tomb which had been cut out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. 47 Miryam of Magdala and Miryam the mother of Yosi saw where he had been laid.

Intro. I’m naming this talk, “Christ as the Other”

In the past I’ve made note of Christ’s “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” Today, however, I am going to explore another element of this chapter. The notion of ‘the other.’ And more specifically, our betrayal of the other.

So, what exactly to I mean when I talk about ‘the other?’ In short, when I speak of ‘the other’ I am talking “the not same.” To borrow a phrase from John Caputo. That person, idea, or thing that doesn’t “fit.” That position that we’ve been talk ought not. Those people that we tend to point the finger to in shock, because they’re not like us. Or at least, not like the us that we want others to see. Lets try to flesh this out.

1. Take the example of Jesus. Why was He crucified? I’m suggesting that He was crucified because He refused to bend the knee to the then currant social constructs. He stood strong. Calling for unconditional love. Calling out the religious leaders in their hypocricy. Declaring that God is love, not obsessed with ritual. And when he found out some political leaders were hunting him down. He taunted them. Calling them powerless.

He embraced the position of “the other.”

And how did His contemperaries react? They reacted with fear. They realized that He was bringing change. And they were not comfortable with it. So what do they do? They decide, “We need to snuff him out.” “One must die for the many.” In the words of one of the high priests.

However, in their attempts at saving themselves, they killed God. In their infatuation with their notions of god, when He came to visit, they killed Him.

Are we doing the same? How quick are we to shut down, to mute the voices that question our perceived norms? Are we ready to listen? Are we ready to really listen, even to the “outsider?” I guess I’m asking, “What if salvation is found in “the other?”

For instance, Jesus’ contemperaries, again, were planning to rise up and destroy their oppressors, the Romans, kill them all. But Jesus came with an alternative idea.

“Love your enemies.”

Calling warnings that,

“Those who live by the sword, will perish by the sword.”

And did they listen? No, not really. And did He then stop? No, He was willing to pay the ultimate price. Death. And still they marched on their “Make Jerusalem Great Again” campaign, and were destroyed. Wrecked by the Romans.

Where are we headed? Are we listening to the outsiders? What pain could be saved if only we were to learn to ask,

“How do we look to you?”

Of those who we perceive as strange and ugly. Who is calling out warnings to us? Who are we shutting down? Where does your faith lie?

2. This takes us to level 2, concerning ‘the other’

So does this mean that any group, or person or thing should then define itself as ‘the other?’ Can I call myself ‘the other?’ No thats called complaining. ‘The Other’ is more like an unconscious placement of those/that which we don’t like, not a chosen position.

For example, I remember, when growing up that one of the focuses seemed to be our persecution. How we, the mennonites, used to be persecuted by the rest of the church. We were strange to “them.” And were tortured for it.

And on the opposite side of the coin. The end times would be here very soon and we would be tortured for our faith. So stand firm!

And honestly, I think that’s, at least partially, great. The choice to remember. To never forget the price that our ancestors were willing to pay to remain true to their convictions. That says something about courage available to us.

And on the stance of remaining aware of the fact that we’re on a dangerous path where pain and struggle may come at us at any time is also, I think, a good position to remain aware of.

However, the danger is also there, for us, to become so infatuated with the idea that ‘they’ are always coming for us. That we always are our guard and we forget to love. We believe we are ‘the other’ and therefore are constantly standing on alert with our swords in hand so that before we even become aware of it we’re running around hurting others. We become the predators, because we are so scared of losing out. I’m afraid we see a lot of this, especially in the north american church today. We’re loosing our religious empires, and we’re terrified.

Will we attack? Like Jesus’ contemperaries? Or will we learn to truly love? In the midst of struggle?

So again, the danger in naming ourselves ‘the other,’ the persecuted outsiders, is that we begin to fight back, not realizing that we are the empire attacking ‘the pesky other.’

We may do this by writing a “Nashville Statement,” while hurricanes cause real damage to people’s lives. Or in our attitudes toward single people or married people. The rich or poor people. People from other religions or those fundamentalist christians. People of other races or gamers or business people or the messy or the perfectly sparkly etc etc etc.

So what? What can we do?
Paul gives us a hint toward a better way in Galations 3

26 For in union with the Messiah, you are all children of God through this trusting faithfulness; 27 because as many of you as were immersed into the Messiah have clothed yourselves with the Messiah, in whom 28 there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor freeman, neither male nor female; for in union with the Messiah Yeshua, you are all one

Peter Rollins explores the radical implications of this verse in his book “Insurrection”
(read mid page 165- early 167)

So. How do we remain awake? How do we continue to live by love when the temptation to point fingers is so strong? How do we allow our connection in Christ to draw us together? I’ll close with a short story. And hopefully we talk about some of these questions after.

See “Betrayal” page 117 in the book ‘Unorthodox Heretic’ (by Peter Rollins)

-Love and peace

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