Xenophobia, Nationalism, Propaganda, and the Death of Jesus Christ

After a conversation with my husband in which the root of some of my current religious struggles took shape, I was reading in John 11. I found some interesting material I've never noticed before.

Source: Lazaro, Ven Fuero, Jorge Cocco Santangelo

In that chapter, Lazarus gets sick and dies. Jesus gets to Bethany after Lazarus has been dead for four days. Because Bethany was so close to Jerusalem, it wasn't safe for Jesus to come any sooner. As it was, the apostles thought they would all die there. 

Lazarus being restored to life is such a beautiful story, I've never paid attention to this subtext of personal danger on the Savior's part. But in our current political climate, it's hard not to see it above all else. In my mind, the rational for why the Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus was a power struggle born of jealousy. But the scriptures we have clarify that it goes much deeper than that.

48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation...

52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

Their response to power they could neither understand nor control was not just jealousy. It was the irrational, but deeply-held belief that they would lose their nation and identity as Jews to Rome. They were afraid that Jesus would reunify the lost tribes of Israel, reunifying the kingdom and thereby challenging their power and superiority.

It was an anti-immigrant, nationalistic stance born of fear, hatred, and ignorance.

How did the Pharisees and their supporters justify the decision to kill Jesus, through which they would break any law, enter into any conspiracy, and shed innocent blood?

Nationalism. A rotten fruit of the human spirit, from which no good has ever come.

If the Pharisees were alive today, they'd be wearing red hats that say "Make Jerusalem Great Again." They followed Caiaphas, who couldn't be a better parallel for many of the leaders on the world stage today. Caiaphas was willing to justify murder for the sake of his nation, because "it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not."

Jesus was arrested illegally, given an unjust trial, sentenced against the law of his people, and killed because of a vocal minority's fear mongering and manufactured narratives. No one understands nationalism and the injustice that comes from it better than he does.

Like the rest of us, Jesus was a man of many good intentions living in an unjust world. Nothing he could do in mortality could ever make life just. He suffered and died because he tried to make life just a little more fair for the disadvantaged and the outcast. He believed in equality. He believed, and hoped against hope, that he could make a difference. It was exhausting to him. The more he gave to the poorest in his society, the more some people hated him. And even he couldn't change that.

We all will experience that same ugliness of spirit, because evil is timeless & has a habit of repeating itself. But we can't give up, the same way Jesus never did. We can't make things fair. But we can make things better than they would be if we did nothing at all.

Now that Jesus is no longer mortal, has risen from the dead, and sits in judgment over the entire human race, he has the power to right all wrongs. He has the power to achieve justice and fairness. We will have our day in court. We will all have justice.

The injustice and unfairness that surround us are not God's doing. But with his help, we can travel on the same long, arduous road where he walked to create change. It won't be easy, but nothing worth the time ever really is.

The Lord's Prayer

I'm studying the Lord's Prayer because my prayers have become weak sauce and uninspired. How can I pray more like Jesus? Always a good question to ask.

Jesus opens with praise to the Divine. How often do I praise God for who he is? Practically never. Praise to me has always felt like telling God things about himself that he already knows. But like words of affirmation, being original isn't the point. The point is affection. Acknowledging the good, the holiness in someone else is never a waste. I should do this more.

The first thing Jesus asks for is Unity with/Acceptance for Divine Will. Also doesn't make a frequent appearance in my prayers. I'm a laundry-lister if there ever was one. Just because most of what I ask for isn't for myself doesn't make it a good prayer. Lists are still about me. What does God want for me, and am I discovering that/uniting myself with it each day? Not as intentionally as I could.

The second thing Jesus asks for is sustenance. What do I really need, and am I asking for it? This is one thing I can give myself credit for. I could always be more specific. But I've been poor and hungry for too much of my life to ever be bad at this.

The third thing Jesus asks for is Resolution. An end to strife, forgiveness, (in our case) repentance, and support in all relationships. Oh boy, do I need this! No wonder I feel so worn out. I need renewal and rejuvenation in every relationship I have. That is something I need to pray for!

The last thing Jesus asks for is support in weakness and trials. He had them, just like us. And mine are also nothing to be ashamed of. I can admit to myself that I have them without embarrassment. What he's asking for is also two-fold, as interpreted by me: Don't let me follow anyone else into trouble
If I'm taking myself there, please save me from myself.

What a beautiful way to be human, really. And still responsible for my own actions.

I am not equipped to separate the suffering in the world from judgmental thoughts about what others should be doing to overcome their weaknesses. It doesn't leave much space to think about my own weaknesses. I need to recenter myself on what I can control, which is me and only me.

Jesus closes with more praise, because he's a nice guy. And it really makes me think that Heavenly Father must be big on words of affirmation.
My prayers include a lot of habitual stuff, like praying for my family, the prophet, the missionaries and all that. And I think I need to stop myself from doing that for a while. What good does praying for others do me if I'm drowning, but I never pray for myself?

The Lord's prayer is awesome. Every time I study it, I learn something new and it makes my prayers better.

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