This week, we are drawing upon Drew Hart’s new book “Who Will Be A Witness?” From the back of the book, “At a time when many feel disillusioned and distressed, Hart calls the church to action, offering a way forward that is deeply rooted in the life and witness of Jesus.” Hart is a public theologian and professor at Messiah University.
Today’s Bible Reading
Read Luke 19:41-44
“If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”—Luke 19:42
More thoughts for meditation
“The temptation for those who want to justify violence is to spiritualize or avoid Jesus’ radical message so that it has no earthly demand on our lives. On the other hand, the temptation of principled and doctrinal pacifists is to apathetically condemn oppressed people’s revolutionary methods form the sidelines of comfort. The distance from the oppressed, the condemnation of the oppressed, and the apathy to the lived social conditions of the oppressed are all out of alignment with the way of Jesus. That is not participating in God’s choosing of the vulnerable, weak, and oppressed of our world as sites of divine vocation and deliverance (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). Only when we empathize with every Barabbas in our midst through actual joining of life, sharing intimately in suffering, and taking up our cross in the struggle for God’s dream of a new reign can we grasp the things that make for peace that Jesus calls us to live.
The things that make for peace will never be found on the sidelines, and they won’t be found through condemning how others deal with oppression that does not affect you, but they do demand empathetic solidarity and liberative struggle that intimately joins people living on the underside of the empire. There we find both Barabbas and Jesus caught in the whirlwinds of the establishment and under the punitive control of the empire. Moreover, each desires liberation and ultimate shalom” (Hart, Drew, “Who Will be A Witness,” Harold Press: 2020, p. 91).
Hart says that Barabbas, the infamous criminal that Jesus replaces on the cross, is an insurrectionist, like Jesus, but with a different strategy. Hart brings to the two closer than most interpreters do—most of them showing Barabbas as a brute. But Hart showcases that they share in the same struggle, but approach in a unique way. Jesus’ peace results in liberation. It “includes empathetic solidarity that intimacy joins the oppressed and vulnerable people in liberative struggle against hat which comes to steal, kill, and destroy life” (p. 93)
Suggestions for action
“The things that make for peace include the practice of empathetic solidarity that intimately join the crucified of the world through presence” (p. 93).
In contrast to many peacemakers, Hart insists on solidarity with the oppressed, with the Barabbases of the world, empathy toward even their violent methodology because we share the same desire. Perhaps today we can pray for empathy with the oppressed, and instead of judging their actions, we see them and join them, and realize in many cases, we are them.