The Politics of the Cross: Part Two

Submitted by SCM on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - 10:25

This is part two of a series of blogs by Paul Ballard looking at the politics of the cross through the eyes of the four gospels.

Mark: Service and Solidarity

In Mark, the procession into Jerusalem shows a king coming into his city. The crowd forms itself into a procession, singing Psalms of welcome to the Davidic king (Mk. 11.1-10; Ps. 118.26). Jesus enters the city and is depicted moving about freely, without opposition. The city is being offered the chance to accept its king. The day after the entry, Jesus cleanses the temple. It has become a fortress, a robbers’ den (11.15-19; Jer. 7.11). It is only in response to this act that the authorities begin the challenge that leads to rejection. There is a series of encounters and teaching that draws out this conflict. Still Jesus asserts his kingship (12.35-7).

The nature of that kingship has, however, to be spelled out. Mark’s story moves from the confession of Peter and the Transfiguration (8.27-9.8) to Jerusalem as a continuous drama, which is also the spelling out of Jesus’ purpose. Throughout, there are the solemn statements of the death to come (8.31;9.31;10.33). Between them, other themes are interwoven. James and John ask to be seated on royal thrones. Jesus challenges them to recognise the real nature of their request, because his lordship is that of the servant. Along with that goes the challenge: ‘Are you able to drink the cup that
I drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I am baptised?’ (10.38) Discipleship is to follow Jesus along the way of the cross.
 

What is being underlined here is that Jesus offers an alternative path to power politics: that of service. This is a challenge, but one that is always with us. In the midst of normal life we are given the chance of serving the Kingdom as we serve each other and society. The politics of the cross is to be with Jesus in the streets of the city, to be, as he said, salt, leaven, light for the world (Matt. 5.13-16), to be those that ‘follow in the way’ (10.52).


 

Part One: The Politics of the Cross - Introduction

Part Three: Matthew - Resistance and Challenge

Part Four: Luke - Peace and Justice

Part Five: John - A Kingdom not of this World

Tags: PoliticsJesus