What if Jesus had died quietly in his bed in Nazareth?

Wow, I loved this quote. This blogger is a catholic Lutheran who has traipsed all over the Middle East, Asia Minor, and Greece. Check out his blog, but especially his recent post Jesus is Lord (and Caesar is not). A selection:

But Christ has already won the victory. And his victory, quite appropriately, was at the hands of Rome's principal instrument for the execution of those rebellious barbarians: the cross. Christ died for our sins; but however much it would have 'worked' had his innocent life ended quietly in bed in Nazareth, can we really imagine Christianity being the same if the death that saves us from death was a quiet and peaceful death in his sleep? I think not. Christ conquers Rome's good news of civilization by dying at its hands; he shows the world for what it is; he shows us for what we are. The Old Adam dies in the mutilated Image of God at the hands of those who believe themselves to be gods. He becomes the rebel- "he became sin"- in order to win the victory that Caesar never could. The idolatry of earthly goods and the pride in human accomplishment lies in ruins scattered around the Mediterranean Sea, while the ambassadors of Christ continue to subvert the principalities of this world through our tiny colonies called churches. Who is the victor?


FrGregACCA said…
Caesar is indeed not Lord; however, at the same time, Caesar is still around and is still mandated by God to fulfill certain duties, while we are also mandated by God to meet certain obligations to Caesar. See Romans 13.
Anonymous said…
The article was a good read and I found the positioning of Caesar vs Christ very profound.
I liked how it said that Caesars gospel was the law, which people don't follow (according to Luther). Because it describes precisely what Pilate and other systems of secular courts are often unable to do. Meet out justice. Pilate tried to free Jesus three times because He was innocent under Roman law... but eventually relented under a thinly veiled threat to his safety as Governor... then washed his hands in vain like Lady Macbeth.

The other principal agents in Christ's crucifixion were presented another choice. In a way, it could be summarized as Christ vs Barabbas. Christ as the true 'Son of the Father' versus Bar-Abbas as the other 'son of the father' by the very meaning of his name. Bar-Abbas who theologians suspect was a militant freedom fighter, perhaps much like Bar-Kobah offering salvation by the sword. The Jews were looking for a wolf as in Judas Maccabeus, they instead got a lamb in Christ.
FrGregACCA said…
Barabbas is simply the other side of the Caesar coin. The languages on the placard placed on the Cross of Christ proclaiming him to be "King of the Jews" - Hebrew, Greek, and Latin - represent the forces by which fallen humanity - and Satan - killed Christ. Latin represents Caesar/Barabbas. Hebrew represents religion, specifically the revealed religion of Judaism: in short, Torah (cf. Romans 7). Greek represents the totality of culture, including the economy: master/slave relationships, patriarchy, etc. All of these came into human history as a result of the Fall for the purpose of keeping humanity from destroying itself. However, they cannot save humanity because they, too, are subject to cooptation by sin and Satan. This is revealed fully in the fact that they are the instruments whereby the Son of God is unjustly executed. Therefore, in His death and resurrection, Christ conqueers them, but they do not immediately disappear completely because they still remain useful to some degree. However, such relations of dominance/submission should be largely absent from the Church within which they should be irrelevant.
Anonymous said…
Well said Fr Greg.
Abu Daoud said…

But Fr Greg, isn't there a significant difference in Orthodoxy? I mean, like the idea of even bringing the entire empire into the church, so that the very empire is evangelized and becomes in itself an instrument for God's glory?

I am curious to learn more about this topic. Glad you both enjoyed the post, I felt it was really well-written.

FrGregACCA said…

I suspect that question would answered a bit differently now than between, say, AD 500-1400. However, it was always clear that the Emperor, even as Christ's (non-sacerdotal) representative on earth, was not considered to be a god in the same that the old Roman Emperors were. Further, the notion of symphonia, that Church and State together jointly ruled the Empire, each supreme in its own area, provided a certain balance of power. In general, the Emperor crossed the Patriarch at the former's peril. However, for all that, I doubt there was much consideration of the relativity of the state in terms of what I have sketched above. Perhaps that could only be understood after the literally Apocalyptic 20th Century, in which States attempted to reassert a divine identity, a stance made all the more dangerous by the fact that at least when such states were Leninist, they were explicitly atheistic.
FrGregACCA said…
Also, it is clear that the process whereby patriarchy, economic domination, ethnic preferences, the state, etc., pass away is gradual and probably not complete this side of the parousia.

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