The Saturday in the 5th Week of Lent
April 01, 2023
Is Jesus in conflict? Is Jesus there as comfort amid conflict? Do you think that his mercy is in enduring conflict, in survival? Is he in the aftermath of conflict, in the picking up the pieces to begin again? Considering the way Jesus roused his world, inciting controversy, and violence, I’d say that Jesus was a proponent, not necessarily of the violence of difficult change, but of the change that results from the messy ways in which we often conduct ourselves. The tension intrinsic to conflict is the necessary catalyst to lasting change. Without that tension we would never enter conflict. We are simply too fearful. We sense the loss that change represents and our limited perception doesn’t allow us to see beyond that loss.
Take Caiaphas for example. Caiaphas is the Jewish high priest who in this passage initiates the proceedings that lead to Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. Caiaphas’ position as high priest was appointed by the Roman governmental authorities of the day. Because Caiaphas served a long tenure, historians deduce that he held influence in both political and religious arenas. Caiaphas was also a Sadducee, a member of the Jewish wealthy elite. All that Caiaphas had- his career status, his tenuous political position, his social standing, and his financial means -were threatened by Jesus, but how exactly?
Prior to this passage Jesus’ mysterious actions and statements built the tension. He turned water into wine; he brought an official’s son back from the brink of death; he healed a paralytic; he fed 5,000 with only 3 loaves and 2 fishes; he brought sight to a blind man; and he raised Lazarus from the dead. Even more blasphemous, Jesus repeatedly claimed the title that God claimed for himself – “I AM.” I am the bread of life; I am the light of the world; I am the gate for the sheep; I am the good shepherd; I am the resurrection; I am the way, the truth, and the life; and I am the true vine. Jesus’ I AM statements were intentional claims to his divinity and posed tremendous threat to those in authority. Combine that with his seeming disregard for Jewish Law and his power to perform miracles, and you find Jesus in conflict.
Jesus is right there in the conflict, holding the tension for our needed, corrective change. He is there because he can see when we are blinded. It is part of the mystery of Jesus’ presence. He is all aspects of the restorative nature of conflict. He can welcome conflict with all the confusion and violent emotion that is brings, and he can comfort as we endure the turmoil. He can journey with us through the pain and brokenness of conflict because he is leading us to the greater virtues of acceptance, forgiveness, humility, and gratitude. He can stand with us in the aftermath of destructive conflict as witness to our entrance into something that is both, familiar and foreign, fearful and exciting, and something that is new, fresh, and captivating. After destructive conflict, we have only a vague understanding of where we are going. We know we are being led and we sense that it is to our benefit, but we are not quite sure. It is fearful because it is vague and distant, and it is exciting for the same reason. Jesus is there in the conflict because he understands that the change conflict brings possesses no true threat at all, just potential and promise. That is why he is in the conflict, to find us and to guide us through our fear and ignorance, to something greater.