Posted by: rogermitchell | March 27, 2013

Things that make for peace

Yesterday I was giving a public seminar “Towards an inclusive gospel politics of love” at Regent College in the University of British Columbia. After it an enthusiastic participant came up and shared some significant insights with me.

He referred to Jesus weeping over Jerusalem and his statement “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace!”(Lk 19:42). He then pointed out that in Luke’s account this incident came between the so-called triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when the crowds worshiped him as a king in contemporary imperial Roman terms, and his demonstration against the ruling powers in the temple.

The triumphant Roman general or Caesar would enter a city not on a donkey, but on a war horse. The crowds assumed that king David’s son would behave in the same way. But they failed to grasp the significance of the donkey and Zechariah’s prophecy and to realise that Jesus was reversing the way of empire. As a result their behaviour simply affirmed the deep structure of imperial hierarchy (Matt 21:5; Zech 9:9-10). Peace comes to the nations among the people, not over them in hierarchical celebrity. The need was not to imitate imperial rule but to expose and challenge it, just as Jesus did in the temple after his tearful statement.

The things that make for peace are those that recognize, receive and enact egalitarian grace. The behaviour of the crowds on Palm Sunday was possibly as much the behaviour that rejected Jesus’ kenarchic way of peace as their later cries of “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” This has much to say about our treatment of leaders in church and society today. Our honouring of leadership as celebrity in church or society legitimates oppressive structure and affirms the things that make for injustice, inequality and war.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; he is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And he will speak peace to the nations; and his dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” (Zech 9:9-10).


  1. Yes, I thnk you’re right

  2. Thanks for letting me know!

    • Hi Roger,

      It should not be held against the people too harshly who even within their own traditions had only seen empire modeled to them. Joseph’s teasing of his brothers after God had raised him up was not really very kenotic in my view. It simply reinforced a spirit of power that rules over.

      Jesus did everything he could to ensure no such demonstration of empire was anywhere in his actions. Sadly it still got twisted didn’t it?

      Thank the lord we are finally seeing him for what he was and is and is to come. This is worth living for!!!

      I read with great sadness today, the fights within the Mandela household over his legacy.

      Celebrating anything but the love, kindness and grace of Jesus is a hiding to nothing. Kenarchy surely has to emerge from our honouring him and he in turn honouring us and we in turn honouring one another.


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