When you read the Gospels, do you ever wonder if there were two Jesus’?
Sometimes it appears to me that Jesus welcomes people with open arms, with healing hands as he affirms them for who they are and declares God’s favour and grace. He brings life and bounty to them. However, there are other moments when he seems to be calling for people to amend their ways and he declares that God is pronouncing judgement and condemnation. He asks great sacrifice from them and asks them to give things up and “take up your cross” to follow me.
The Rev. Eric Law makes sense of this, viewing the scripture through the lens of a classic power analysis. He asks: “Who is Jesus dealing with? Is he dealing with the powerful, i.e., those who can control and manipulate their environment and have their way, or is he dealing with the powerless, those unable to change their world and have their way?“
When seen through this lens, Jesus’ actions take on a consistency. Rev. Eric Law, notices that Jesus tends to address privileged people differently than he addresses less powerful people.
When Jesus meets the powerless, he announces the “favourable year of the Lord,” the breaking of bonds, the freeing of prisoners, the healing of the sick, the forgiveness of debts and sin. He announces resurrection and new life, and gives the mute a voice with which to speak.
When Jesus addresses marginalized people he uses phrases like:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven."
“What do you want me to do for you?”
“Where are your accusers? Neither do I accuse you.”
“Never have I seen such amazing faith in all of Israel.”
“Your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
When Jesus interacts with the powerful and privileged, however, he asks them to give up their power, to sell all they have and give it to the poor, to “come and die.”
When Jesus addresses this group he uses phrases such as:
“Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.”
“You are like whitewashed tombs.”
“You unbelieving and perverse generation.”
“Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor.”
All of us, at different times and in different settings might find ourselves in positions of relative power or powerlessness. The Gospel’s call to us varies depending on where we are at that moment in terms of relative power and privilege, according to Eric Law.
He describes this as the Cycle of Gospel Living, which relates to us how God approaches us at different times in each of our lives, depending whether we are powerful or marginalized.
We will be exploring this more through a form of Lectio Divina called Kaleidoscope Bible Study during our weekly Lenten Zoom sessions on Tuesday evening at 7:30PM and Thursday morning at 10 AM.
Come and join us