In chapter 15 of her book, From Stone to Living Word, Debbie Blue comments on the passion—the intense agony and suffering—of Jesus Christ. And as it so happens, we each have our part, regardless of belief or ideology, in afflicting this one who welcomes all. “In Mark’s story of the Passion,” she says, “Jesus is mocked and tortured, dies a long drawn-out, torturous death at the hands of people who are serving their ideals, their idols, their good. Everyone in the story turns out to be against him: the fundamentalists, the liberals, the revolutionaries, the collaborators. And he is against no one.” (p. 183)
How can he not choose a side? One of the often repeated questions in today’s political discourse demands, “Where is the outrage?” Still, as Blue says, “The Son of God here looks nothing like the god who can’t tolerate unrighteousness, the god who must put to death what is against God. He takes what is against him. He takes it all over his body. Lets it rip his flesh, expose his vital organs, strip him naked, pierce him to his heart. It makes him bleed. He suffers it all, and it kills him.”
Wow! And I do mean, wow! If I’m not careful, I can be self-congratulatory if I write an email for Amnesty International! But taking what is against me, and embracing it, knowing that he/she/it/they will rip, strip, and make me bleed—well, that’s something else entirely.
She continues, “He doesn’t look like a martyr, someone trying to protect ‘good.’ If that is what he’s doing, he doesn’t do a very good job of making it clear what the cause is. He doesn’t make any clear statements before his accusers.” We all play our roles, posing as noble John the Baptist or ignoble Pontius Pilate, demanding that others clearly state who they are.
If they don’t match up with what our gods, our idols, dictate, then as Al Pacino famously shouts in the movie Carlito’s Way, “Here come da pain!”