When a large crowd of admirers met a large crowd of mourners, Jesus noticed the widow, a political act of directing attention to one whose life was most imperiled. Followers of Christ would do well to do the same.
The donkey plays a surprisingly significant role in the history of Israel’s kingdom. Entering into Jerusalem on the back of a colt, Jesus performs a symbolic action that manifests his true identity and the character of his kingdom.
Although the parable is typically referred to as that of ‘the Prodigal Son’, the son who receives the father’s welcome has long since fallen from his state of prodigal living into one of the most abject poverty and lack. This father’s loving embrace challenges us to consider our provision of welfare and welcome to those in need among us, irrespective of how ‘deserving’ we might suppose them to be.
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, his trial, suffering, death, and resurrection, bring into full circle his journey to Jerusalem that was not shaped by Herod’s murderous threat but by his redemptive obedience to God’s will.
Deuteronomy 26 and Luke 4 both involve the navigating or enduring of pressures. The pressure of God’s liberating inbreaking overcomes and escapes those pressures that would exert themselves against it.
Spectacle has always played an important role in establishing power, authority, and sovereignty. In the unity of the dazzling body of the Transfiguration and the brutalized body of the crucifixion, the integrity of the spectacle and that which lies beneath is made known and our own polities’ lack of such integrity is challenged.
Both in Jesus’ baptism and in the later giving of the Spirit through the laying on of hands in the early Church, we see significance accorded to touch. This importance given to touch—to the tangible—summons us into the realm of human and bodily connection and engagement with others.
In the incarnation of Jesus, all our systems of social stratification—all our means of exploiting, oppressing, and humiliating one another—are revealed to be lies. Mary expresses a ‘Christmas revolution’ in her Magnificat, a vision for a radically different way of living decisively ushered in by God’s becoming one of us in Christ.
Jesus teaches his disciples the meaning of waiting in a faithful manner. Keeping watch for God’s work within the world requires avoidance of distraction and a desperate faithfulness.
The law is a dying and rising reality, not a dead letter etched in stone. Through the hermeneutics of resurrection words once consigned to the grave of the past burst with liberating and life-giving force upon an unsuspecting world.
Jesus introduces a new principle of division into history, forcing all to show hands previously held to close to their chests. As Jesus precipitates division and judgment in history, he shapes the destinies of societies and nations and explodes the myth that he is an apolitical Messiah.