The Jesus Rally

Sermon on the mount

Jesus had rallies that attracted thousands, too. Here's how they went.

Christians make a big deal out of "discipleship." We claim that we are disciples of Jesus and most churches consider the call of Jesus to "Go into all the world and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19) to be at the heart of their mission. Our discipleship doesn't seem to be showing.

A disciple is one who learns from a master teacher, and we claim that our Master is Jesus. We are not disciples of Falwell or Graham; Spong or Borg. We are not disciples of Scalia or Ginsberg, or any political candidate on either side either now or from days past. We are disciples of Jesus; or so we say.

But what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus in America in 2016? We know what our political rallies look like. Jesus had rallies, too. People came by the thousands. They, too, were the marginalized, the downtrodden, and those who felt the boot of government on their necks. Jesus drew crowds who had lost lands and jobs and dignity through no fault of their own. So what did he say to these people who felt their government didn't give a flip about their needs and concerns--even their life or death? How did Jesus lead his rallies?

First, he blessed them (Luke 6:20-23):

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets."

Then, he called out their oppressors (Luke 6:24-26):

“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets."

And then he told them how to behave in the difficult situation in which they found themselves (Luke 6:27-36):

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

You may think that is naive or stupid or unrealistic. But the saints at Mother Emmanuel Church showed us its power when they stood up and forgave the white supremacist who gunned down their loved ones. So did the Amish community in Lancaster, PA in 2006 when they stood up and forgave the man who lined up and shot ten schoolgirls. 

Many people find they simply cannot do this and will not try, and that is understandable. Loving your enemies is not the easy or the politically expedient road. But it is the command of Jesus. If you want to claim that you are a disciple of Jesus, then that is the path you are choosing. Let it show.


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