Book Review: 'The Politics of Jesus'
What brought about this tragedy? Did it occur because the government and the people were not good enough? Would this tragedy not happen today if Jesus were tried by the purest government and the very brightest people alive?
As it turns out, human goodness and brilliance are irrelevent. It is God who took the initiative to complete the tragedy. In fact, God promised centuries before that this tragedy would take place when Isaiah said “he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)
For Yoder, the cross of Christ and its sacrificial obedience is the model of Jesus’s politics. Yoder liked to quote a verse from Paul’s letter to the Colossians to illustrate how the politics of Jesus triumphed over all other politics: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:15)
But how could God be killed if he was God? How could God be led like a lamb to the slaughter if he was God Almighty, as he claimed? This could only happen by an act of God's own will.
In fact, long before he was crucified, Jesus had told his followers three times that he would be killed. Even though he also said each time that he would be raised to life on the third day, his followers were too weak to comprehend this. And when he was finally crucified most of his followers could not muster the nerve to witness Jesus' death.
Even after Jesus rose from the dead, this weakness continued. Yoder held that the weakness of Jesus’ disciples was “a logical unfolding of the meaning” of Jesus’ work on the cross. It is perhaps in what Jesus told Paul later in the Bible that the significance of weakness is fully shown: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
What makes the weakness of Jesus and that of his disciples significant is God’s spirit and grace. It is weakness that reveals God’s strength. This is a recurrent theme throughout the Bible. As Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians indicates, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)
THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION
Nearly two thousand years on, the followers of Jesus has grown from a group of “unschooled, ordinary men” in the eyes of their contemporaries into a global community. It was perhaps far beyond the imagination of most people in their generation. Given Jesus' promise, however, this should come as no surprise at all.
But by today’s standards, the ruler of this community is very different from those of other communities. Their leader is not only theirs but that of the entire cosmos. Yet, he is a leader “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:6-7)