Love may be most joyful when it is unanticipated. For instance, if Jesus, the Christ, comes into the world to be the Typical Messiah, He might run the risk of trading the tryanny of the Romans or the collobrative ham-handedness of the Sadduccees for a dictatorship of the (religious, nee Christian) proletariat. Instead, Jesus announces His Kingdom is atypical. He insists that anyone who insists He rule like any but the Heavenly Father mistakes Him and His Father and His Spirit.
For whatever it is they miss, the early Church founders do comprehend the expanse of the Christian Kingdom, founded in the sacrifice of the Christ and so continuous through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Christ the King is not a tyrant in the earthly sense of fiated command. Nor is the Christ a martyr to a deceased cause.
The Christ, however, reveals Christself as the unchanging presentation of God before humanity. There is no give or take in His presentation of Himself as man as man should be or of Himself as God is.
In His factual presentation of Himself Christ must insist on the transformation of man-who-would-follow Him, for man is not what man ought to be. If he were, the Christ would certainly not need to come into the world, to live or die.
In this way, Christ can be characterized as “tyrant.” If you pull out your dictionary, you will of course discover a “tyrant” in the old Greek understanding of the word, is any cruel or despotic ruler, or anyone who arrogates to Himself a position of leadership and authority to which he is not entitled and so, usually, achieves this position by the bloody use of power.
Jesus does all those things. Jesus insists on a position to which no one elected or appointed Him. His political standing in mocked at His trial and execution. He is told by one jurist that He is a blasphemer (talking for God, instead of talking about God; speaking with the personal claim of authority rather than by acquired experience). By the other interlocutor He is told He has no power even over His own body.
In all of His travels and trials, Jesus the Christ insists He is the earthly emobdiement of God. If you see Him, you see the Father. If you know Him, you know the Father. Miss Jesus, Jesus says, you miss God altogether.
He could be branded a mere Reform Jew except for His personal claim to be the True Vine. He will tear down the Temple (worship) and in three days build it back in His own body.
He is a tyrant, insisting on a spot no few think He should occupy. He is a tyrant, by the earthly definition.
He is cruel, condemning HImself to so demonstrate the Father before men He Himself will undergo the most painful torture one might imagine. One supposes “demanding” could be substituted for “cruel” in the previous sentence but, really, was the Cross “demanding” or “cruel?”
To mitigate His torture Jesus will not accept the least pallative. He feels it all.
In point of fact, then, the only curative for His deathish tyranny is love. Love may be most joyful when it appears unanticipated. The last place one might look for love is in an execution chamber. In the death place one can wish for some small crumb of respect, at best. Love does not seem to fit the room, nor the stony hill where Jesus dies. He has to bring the love with Him.
He uses His power cruelly, with all the cruelty aimed at Himself. He deflects the wrath from its rightful recpients, even praying for them (us) in our ignorance.
He is a tyrant.
He is a lover.
He is a martyr.
A martyr, you know, is a witness. A martyr knows something so personally, he/she will suffer the stake or languish in chains for his/her purpose.
A martyr without a cause is a lunatic. A martyr with the wrong cause is just wrong (and dead).
Lasting causes cannot just be against. A lasting cause must point to something better. The methods of the lasting cause cannot be said to “give the lie” to its intended end. When a cause loses its way, it loses its end.
So, Jesus and Judas Iscariot may be members of the same band, with Judas committed to the violent overthrow of the Romans, while Jesus is commited to the foundation of a Kingdom of Heavenly Love in HIs own body and blood. Judas pursues his own very earthly cause with the attendant risk of replacing one human tyranny with another. Jesus tyranizes Himself, a method pointed to a final, loving end.
One may first encounter Christ personally, only to one day awaken and find oneself merely religious. You find you have replaced the love-intention of the Master with the despotism of the institution. Love is most joyous when it comes unexpectedly. Love may be most disappointing when it disappears into inaction or even morphs into a cause for resentment. The Christ-martyr demonstrates the (cause) ethos of purposeful love ( do not be disturbed; the description of His love requires many modifiers).
Life is not “too short” for inaction or resentment or (mere) institutionalized religion. Life is too long for such petty wastes of time. In the Edenic socety of God’s intent, life is durable and death is temporary. Could no who lives resentfully in this age be expected to find happiness in the next (much longer) phase? Or is it enough to accept religion in order to escape punishment?
The martyr-Messiah does not spare Himself cruel punishment in order to establish His faith. He eschews the natural resentment of any innocent sufferer. What does this say?
Life is too long for inaction, resentment, unconcern, dispassion, selfishness. If those are the lasting emotions, eternity is not worth much.
So, Jesus, the Christ, orders a culture of “malice for none and charity for all…”
When the bloody conflict ends, who will stand? If the Scripture is true, it will be those who stand with Jesus, in His resurrection, with Jesus, in his crucifixion.
Why? Well, maybe tomorrow.