by Rev. Dr. Art Cribbs -
Easter is the quintessential celebration for Jesus’ followers. It embodies forgiveness and life beyond death. Easter takes on contemporary significance as its fundamental principles are witnessed daily. For many people, events emanating from Washington, DC, instill worry and great concern. It feels like a protracted “Good Friday” at a far distance from the surprising joy of Jesus’ empty tomb.
Understanding the power of Easter is critically important for believers with high expectations of peace and coexistence across cultures. Mega-doses of discouragement mixed with profoundly hurtful policies and pronouncements sap our energy and cause us to doubt new life is possible that restores faith. Yet, that is the very point of Easter when Jesus rose from the dead.
His state execution was conducted publicly to discourage others from threatening temporal powers in high places. The act of being lynched in full view was seared in the conscious of anyone who dared to plot any scheme that could influence both people and governments. It was intended to silence outspoken critics and advocates who sought a more just society. The rush to execute an innocent person who modeled compassion was the height of moral degradation.
Unfortunately, there remains sufficient evidence such practice continues. Consider the charges filed against Jesus that led him to the Cross. He was an outsider (immigrant) who dared to assume a position of religious authority in the citadel of his faith. He dared to recognize “outcasts” as quality human beings. He attended to the poor, cripple, and undesirable members of his society with the same dignity accorded wealthy, influential, and highly placed citizens. He broke social norms and associated himself with people rendered invisible and untouchable.
The true crime was his audacity to equate all people as legitimately acceptable before God. He preached a message that said in order to be suitable to receive divine treasures people have to present themselves humbly and obediently by showing compassion, forgiveness, and love. Today, we look back at Jesus’ lynching and assess the consistency of his life.
He did not curse those who falsely accused him or the military officers who murdered him. He did not resist the government that held sway over the nation and placed profits above people. Jesus demonstrated mercy, forgiveness, and honored life. On “Good Friday” he was executed as a common criminal beside thieves. But, come Easter Sunday Morning, he arose and manifested the power of God.
Easter gives us hope today. In spite of the political shenanigans in capitals around the world and here at home, we have a vision of community and compassion. We can extend mercy and forgiveness to the guilty and protect the innocent. We pray for those conflicted souls in high office who concentrate their powers to harm human integrity. We commit our lives to service, forgiveness, and compassion. We are inspired by Jesus to follow his Way as an Easter people who believe in life made new.
Rev. Dr. Art Cribbs is a member of the DSF Board. He is pastor of the Los Angeles Filipino American United Church of Christ; executive director emeritus of Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity; and, ethics instructor for the California Department of Justice POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) Executive Development Course.