Peaceful Protest Word on the Week 29th August 2020.
Setting aside for the moment the mea culpa of the leading lights of Irish society attending a dinner in breach of the Government guidelines and looking at the more sinister events in Belarus and Washington. In both places peaceful protests were made against Government wrongs.
The outcome, rather like the weaker dog which always loses the dogfight, is the clearing of the streets by superiorly equipped police or military forces. The Leader wants to remain and is prepared to sacrifice protesters safety for personal power.
The flashpoint is regularly created by elections. They, in a democracy, provide a way of expressing approval or disapproval of the candidates. It invariably becomes more difficult if the candidate has had a taste of power and wishes to retain it at all costs!
The avenues open to the protesters are limited. Their voice and the voices of those who represent them are seldom heard. Taking to the streets is a high risk strategy. Those defending law and order can so easily turn a peaceful march into a riot with a few well aimed rubber (or metal) bullets. Conversely a peaceful protest can become a major disturbance if it is hi-jacked by an extreme group intent upon destruction.
There were plenty of disturbances during Jesus’s time on earth. His preaching to crowds was always carried out in open areas away from cities. His main problem was restraining the crowds desire to make him their leader. His kingdom was not to be over territory but the hearts and lives of those who became his followers.
The authorities recognised his leadership and as so often happens saw it as a threat to their getting their own way. They conspired to do, what is not uncommon today, and have him killed. This had to be done cautiously as Jesus was popular with the ‘common’ people (Matthew 26 verses 3 to 5).
In the event they need not have been concerned. Jesus walked into Jerusalem as a lamb to the slaughter. He was aware of the unity among the authorities that he should die. He also knew that his death was in the plan for his peoples’ redemption (St Matthew 26 verse 2) (Romans 8 verse 32). So how could this be?
It was Passover. Jerusalem would have been full of lambs, prepared for sacrifice. The priest would lay his hand on the head of the lamb symbolising that the donors sins were transferred to the sacrifice and their guilt was purged (1 Peter 2 verse 24).
Jesus, our lamb, carried the sins of his people in his body on the cross. The emblems of sin, the thorns, were unwittingly placed on his head by the Roman soldiers and his atoning blood ran down the cross cancelling our sin (Genesis 3 verses 18) (2 Corinthians 5 verse 21).
Do any modern leaders come near such sacrificial living, such love? Do we?