Christians throughout the world this coming Sunday recall Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey knowing that what lay ahead is his trial, cross and passion. Just after Luke's telling of Jesus' triumphal entry in Jerusalem he describes how Jesus wept over the city's failure to understand the things that make for peace.
The author and activist John Dear writes articulately about Jesus' nonviolence and especially the portion of scripture mentioned above, the paragraphs below are from a piece he wrote in March of 2003.
"As our country wages war on Iraq and terrorizes the world with its arsenal of nuclear weapons, many of us despair that we will ever know peace. In that place of rock bottom despair, we place our hope in the risen, peacemaking Christ and his active nonviolence, and take up his cross of nonviolent resistance.
Luke tells us that after walking for several years on a peace pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Jesus broke down and wept when he saw the city, saying "If this day you only knew the things that make for peace, but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you. They will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."(Luke 19:41-44)
Jesus wept over Jerusalem's injustice, violence, idolatry and complicity with imperial warmaking. Their preference for imperial violence and rejection of his divine nonviolence led to Jerusalem's actual destruction by the empire in the year 70.
But Jesus wept too because he saw that through Jerusalem, the whole world had rejected his gift of nonviolence in preference to global domination and imperial violence. He saw that violence in response to violence only leads to further violence, that war never solves our problems, that revenge and retaliation can only lead to our destruction, and that unless we adopt the things that make for peace, the way of creative nonviolence, we are doomed to a global holocaust.
Jesus wept but he did not give up. He took action. Luke records that Jesus proceeded directly into the Temple and turned over the tables of the money changers in an act of nonviolent resistance to systemic injustice. "My house shall be a house of prayer," he announced, "but you have made it a den of thieves." For this dramatic civil disobedience, he was betrayed, denied, arrested, tortured, and executed. He gave his life resisting imperial violence. He never stopped trusting and hoping in the God of peace. When God raised him, he greeted his friends with the consoling words, "Peace be with you," and then sent them forth to carry on his mission of nonviolent resistance.
We take up where Jesus left off. As our country wages war on Iraq and the peoples of the world, we follow the Jesus who weeps over war and acts for peace."
You can read the whole text of Dear's essay here.
Recently a group of spiritual leaders (including many Christians) traveled to Iran to promote discussion and peace. The NOW program traveled with them, you can read about this and view video by clicking here.
The image above is titled "L'entrée de Jésus à Jérusalem" and is by Corinne Vonaesch.