"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Jesus's Last Week in Jerusalem

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Jesus's Last Week in Jerusalem

For some reason, my husband is regularly tapped to play Pontius Pilate for our church dramas. (I tease him that our pastor is trying to tell him something.) The sermon today mentioned a book called The Last Week: A Day-by-Day Account of Jesus's Final Week in Jerusalem, by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. Specifically, the contrast between the two processions, with Jesus coming from the east on a donkey, and Pilate from the west with legions and pomp, the two paths colliding at the cross.

Here is an excerpt of an excerpt from belief.net that seemed relevant to the call for sacrifice mentioned by Tomte:

A common Christian understanding of Jesus's death is that it was a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the world. As we reflect on the extent to which this is present in Mark, we distinguish between a broad and a more specific meaning of the word "sacrifice."

The broad meaning refers to sacrificing one's life for a cause . . . The more specific meaning of sacrifice in relation to Jesus' death speaks of it as a substitutionary sacrifice for sin, a dying for the sins of the world. This understanding is absent from Mark's story of Good Friday; it is not there at all . . . To many Christians, the word "ransom" sounds like sacrificial language, for we sometimes speak of Jesus as the ransom for our sins. But it almost certainly does not have this meaning in Mark. The Greek word translated as "ransom" (lutron) is used in the Bible not in the context of payment for sin, but to refer to payment made to liberate captives (often from captivity in war) or slaves (often from debt slavery). A lutron is a means of liberation from bondage.

To say that Jesus gave "his life a ransom for many" means he gave his life as a means of liberation from bondage. The context of the passage in Mark supports this reading. The preceding verses are a critique of the domination system: the rulers of the nations lord it over their subjects, and their great ones are tyrants (10:42). "It is not so among you," Jesus says, and then uses his own path as an illustration. In contrast to the rulers of this world, "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a lutron—a means of liberation—for many." And this is a path for his followers to imitate: so it shall be "among you."

Well, there's lots more. If you're interested, follow the link or read the book and let's talk about it.


  1. “If we all thought thusly, peace would increase.”

    If we all thought the way that I think… Peace would increase or at least more people would agree with me and the world would be a better place. That, my friends, is what I refer to as… “getting along”.

    Now back to the “spiritual voice of the Nazis”, namely Martin Luther from a couple of posts past. MTH… I was also concerned about the equation of religious differences being compared to the Nazis.

    If there were no Hitler… there would be no holocaust and yet there was a Luther. Hitler was never a religious man and persecuted the faithful when he got a chance. One poster referred to the undeniable fact that Nazism was promoted as its own religion.

    Now to Luther… His contemporary Erasmus and himself differed on many issues… one was a reformer from inside the church and the other a reformer by leaving the church. But both considered themselves true Catholics. Erasmus is celebrated today by the secular enthusiasts and Luther is bashed as being anti-Semitic. It is true that there is plenty of evidence of Luther’s rantings and they offer plenty of material for those who wish to make the case thusly. The fact is that men are both the products of their times and some (usually very few) are makers of their times. Luther and Erasmus share the illustrious position of being both and both were virulently anti-Semitic. And yet we never hear about the long term deliterious effects of Erasmus's philosophy. That was the nature of their time. To place blame on Luther for the holocaust is misplaced and probably historically inaccurate. I refer the interested to Heiko Oberman’s discussion in detail of this issue in his book “The Roots of Anti-Semetism” in the age of the Renaissance and Reformation.

    Jefferson helped create a republic wherein slavery was ultimately found to be reprehensible and he owned slaves. In the first instance he was genius and in the second he was a product of his time. Let us judge 16th century folk against 16th century standards.

  2. Stylux, it's good to have you back.

  3. I'm not sure what you mean, Sty, by "getting along" :-) . . . but it seems worth noting that the Dalai Lama is not interested in having people think like him (even if I am). One of the ironies of pluralism is that it allows room for antipluralists, much like a democracy allows room for antidemocrats.

    Now for Luther, I'll confess -- as someone who attends a Lutheran church and values his many contributions -- I find some of his attitudes appalling.

    It is not "bashing" to call him anti-Semitic (or sexist); his words permit no other conclusion.

    But it is patently stupid to blame him for the Holocaust. No one agent or person (even Hitler) owns all the blame.

    Same goes for our current war. Only the ignorant or insanely partisan insist on a single cause, although there are individuals who must be held accountable. And they ain't Luther.

  4. Free…

    It is always good to have the occasion to respond to you…

    Democratic institutions allow room for anti-democratic opinion… for sure… and the implicit understanding underlying this enlightened position is that this opinion will remain in the minority. Should this minority opinion achieve majority status, everyone loses for then no one has a right to any minority opinion. That is the challenge.

    For us on the right side of the aisle, there is a concern for defending and promoting a value system that represents some sense of nationality as perceived by the majority. (Even non-religious people find some value in having church-going neighbors.) And this position nearly always demands some limits to the concept of diversity… and that is what provides endless things for us to talk about.

    CVOW... Hope you are doing well.

  5. This article/interview was published in Salon.com today (you have to watch an advert to get a day pass to the site).

    Very coincidental timing with our present conversations.


  6. Thanks for the link -- good article. Here's a Pagels quote:

    "At Princeton, there’s a course in the study of New Testament that some evangelical students were warned not to take. They called it “Faith Busters 101.” And some of them come just to flex their muscles and see if they can sit there and stand it while somebody teaches them about how the gospels were written. But what they usually discover is that learning about those things doesn’t change the fundamental questions about faith."

    LOL, I had a class like that in college, but my old faith deserved to be busted. I like my new one much better.

  7. “Our mindset toward those in need is a choice, and if by helping others we see ourselves as superior then we are doing it for the wrong reasons.”

    I have been reading posts from the past several topics ( I am catching up a bit here) and ran across the above from Norah. I came back to this several times as I thought it provoked some consideration. I am reminded of all the charity and good works done by so many and wondered whether the motivation for doing good was important or whether it was the doing good in and of itself that is important.

    Intention or behavior… which matters most. I submit that it is the behavior that matters. Furthermore which is better… being pure and full of good intentions and behaving in a way that harms others all be it unintentionally or having questionable motives but performing deeds that uplift others. And how much charity is accomplished by those who have a bit of a superior feeling by doing it? Eliminating all the good provided by those who feel a twinge of superiority doing it would probably drain the aggregate pool of good works. Would it not?

    Any thoughts?

  8. I've been enjoying your site but have never posted, so I guess I'm a Newbie. :) Anyway, in light of it being Holy Week and a post on Jesus' sacrifice, I thought I'd share a bit of a story from my childhood. I was at my grandparents' home and my grandma happened to see that I had a tube of cherry chapstick in my pocket. She sat me down and carefully explained that having cherry chapstick wasn't in and of itself "wrong" but that it could easily lead to things that were wrong. For example, it could lead to clear lipgloss, which would then lead to light pink lipgloss, which would lead to pink lipstick and before you'd know it...dark red, worldly lipstick. Then, if you're wearing red lipstick, it is so easy to start with clear fingernail polish, light pink fingernail polish and soon, dark red polish. And that would be "just like plunging your hand into the bleeding side of Christ."

    I'm so thankful that such stories are in the past and this Easter I can say, "Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. Alleluia! Alleluia!" complete with lipstick and fingernail polish.

  9. Anon..

    Your grandmother certainly was moderation personified.

  10. Anonymous Newbie, Welcome, pick a pseudonym or handle, click on other and use it when you post. It makes it hard to know who is saying what when there are multiple anonymous posting at the same time. Also, which AP church did you/do you come from?

    Stylux, I have had many conversations on this topic of charity and motivation. I will give my Mr. Smith Hypothesis to your question in two parts. 1) Human beings are are motivated for self happiness or in other words are selfish, but there is what is generally considered positive selfish, and negative selfish (for lack of better terms). A person may help somebody because of feeling guilt, the way you feel with the guilt of not helping will probably be worse then chore of helping. But if that guilt does not outweigh the chore itself, then a person might not help. Giving gifts is a great example, one man may like to give gifts because it makes me feel to good to see other people happy. Another man may give gifts in the hopes that he will receive gifts or praise, or improved social standing in return. Both are doing it for selfish reasons, one for personal happiness, one for personal gain. We generally consider the happiness man to have acted in a good selfish way, while the man who acted for gain as bad selfish. But they both gave gifts? Is that not good?

    Part 2) On a macro level, giving is giving, charity is charity, societally we should encourage people to give regardless of the good or bad of the motive. But on a Micro level, I can choose not to associate with such an individual, I can try to teach my own children through example what I consider to be positive selfishness of feeling good when giving. I can express privately my disdain for certain people who exhibit signs of negative selfishness in there giving and actions.

    Man, I can be wordy. I think I confused my self. But on a Christian level, if a person is doing works of charity in order to gain points with God, they are guilty of Negative Selfishness, and I will cluck cluck in private. But I will not discourage them. But if a person is doing works because of the pride and joy they feel that they made the world a little better today, they are acting in a positive selfish manner and I invite that person to be my friend, and I consider that man to be the true Christian.

  11. LLLreader sez: Free, I was interested in knowing that Baker worked for AZ Children's Services. The street kids situation there is really dire, and the experiences he had must have changed his perceptions. I don't have his mind, or writing ability, but I too retired from a job that showed me some of the worst of human conditions. It changes you. You used these words "broad, empathetic, inclusive Christianity". That is the kind of Christianity that I must have. That you for putting it so clearly.

  12. Thank you for putting it so clearly.