This is the holiest of times for Christians. Last Sunday we celebrated “The Triumphal Entry” of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem setting off the events that lead to His arrest, “trial,” execution and resurrection. Tonight we celebrate the last meal that Jesus enjoyed together with His most devoted followers just before His arrest. The event we celebrate tonight established the most universal of Christian sacraments – communion – the Eucharist. From this evening though Sunday’s ultimate celebration every Christian’s heart beats just a little faster as they consider the culmination of Christ’s earthly ministry. (With apologies to my Christian siblings whose calendar is a little different than mine.)
During this time we celebrate that Jesus, God Incarnate, changed the world on the most fundamental of levels – through sacrifice.
Any observer notes a world longing for change right now. From American elections that turned everything on its head, to Brexit, to overwhelming calls for better service from the airline industry, we may not know exactly what is wrong, but we most certainly know things have to change. What Christians celebrate this week is the only real hope for that change to actually happen.
Any student of history sees in the patterns of today a repeat of things that have happened in the past. Now is different, of course, in detail from the past but our humanity seems to doom us to cycles of increasing belief in our own infallibility only to have that bubble burst on some uprising of dissatisfaction. The fall of Rome, the Reformation, The American Revolution, the communist revolutions, and the rejection of communism all share this commonality. The only way to break the cycle is not with new systems but with changing humanity itself. That changing of humanity itself is the level that Jesus operated on.
Recently, I was with Christians who live under a Communist regime. They’ve been thrown in prison repeatedly due to their faith, and descriptions of their awful imprisonment are peppered with details of the sweetness of Christ’s presence.
They spoke of the growing spiritual hunger of younger believers as the Communist regime proved unable to deliver on its grand promises of utopian equality. These young people are choosing the narrow road of Christianity rather than the broad road of conformity and compromise. Our friends’ words were studded with the jaggedness of rough-roads-not-yet-made-smooth, and it was difficult not to notice their missing body parts and visible scars—disturbing threads woven into their testimonies’ tapestry.
After decades of watching revolutionary power dynamics, our friends spoke a valuable truth: Revelation is a stronger force than revolution.
Are Christians on the left and right forgetting that transformation is vital to change? There is a supernatural force at work when revolution is empowered by Christ. My friends reported, “Humanizing those who are taught to hate us is our first act of resistance. They are the real oppressed.”
Revelation also humanizes and transforms both parties and exposes the limits of mere revolution. Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver echoed my friends toward the end of his life when he opened his formerly raised fist: “We have a spiritual and moral problem in America. Our problem is not economic or political; it is that we do not care about each other.”
Under revolution alone, power is merely shifted from one set of hands to another. It’s the hunger for dominance, rather than the hunger for humanity.
America and the world are roiling right now. It is easy to be pulled into the vortex. But the long weekend that begins tonight is a weekend to remember that the real change we need happens on much deeper levels – and to recommit ourselves to the change that we need to make – each of us, individually.
Let us resolve to do so.