To an audience craving the immanent overthrow of the evil empire hovering in the distance, Jesus invitation to the Kingdom of Peace must have come as a disappointment. Clawing from the fangs of Caesar’s violent grip, the peasant Jews were hungry for a political revolution.
“Blessed are the Peace Makers, for they are the sons of God.”
And to the first hearers of these words, this statement would have had a much deeper significance. Our American understanding of peace usually invokes images of Woodstock and picnics. Or, at the very least, an absence of conflict.
But to Jesus and his contemporaries within 1st Century Judaism, peace had a ferocious multiplicity of meanings. The Hebrew word is “Shalom”; which essentially means “everything restored to it’s rightful place.” Further derivatives of this root word could include “Shulam” (“it was paid for”) or “Meshulam”(“paid in advance”). The general idea is the Peace had to come at a price…
And how did Jesus usher in this Kingdom of Shalom?
He climbed on a donkey and marched through the parade right into the fangs of the Empire, knowing full well that his barbaric execution would forever change the course of human history.
Although the ancient prophets announced that when the Messiah would come, He would be “The Prince of Shalom”, nobody was looking for slaughtered lamb. Yet, this is exactly what He would call His disciples to become. He would send them out in His Name “as lambs in the midst of wolves”, with the assignment to proclaim: Shalom on this house… Shalom on this city… Shalom on this heart.
To understand our role in this revolution of Shalom, is to ask very difficult questions of our own commitment to this Rabbi. What does it mean to ask Jesus into your heart and then pledge allegiance to a Big Government that has an annual budget of 548 Billion Dollars to maintain our Department of Defense? What does it mean to call ourselves a “Christian Nation”, donning Constantinian Swords on our Shields as the Nation that God has chosen? What if these two Kingdoms were to collide? Where is your allegiance?
And if the dominant evidence of our identity as followers of Jesus are the Fruits of the Spirit: “Love, Joy, Shalom, Gentleness, Meekness, Kindness,” then why are we most quickly stereotyped as “Anti-gay, Anti-choice, Intolerant, Empire Builders, Warmongers”?
What happened to the literal application of Jesus’ command to love our enemies? Seriously, what if He actually meant that stuff? That would wreck all of our ideologies, and dismantle our political platforms! We can’t have that!
Notice this sign. Consider the posture of the Body of Christ, to a polarized world in search of Hope. What have we become? God have mercy, what have we become?
Jesus, I love you. I am so sorry for not representing you with more conviction, and grace. Please woo us back to the Way, the Truth, and the Life of your Love. We are a mess without you.
I pledge allegiance to the Slaughtered Lamb.