Passion Sunday: Redemptive Violence is Only Expunged at the Cross

Framlingham: St. Michael’s Church © Copyright Michael Garlick

Passion Sunday: Redemptive Violence is Only Expunged at the Cross

Bradley Jersak

In the Christian West, lectionaries call today either the Triumphal Entry OR Passion Sunday. Today (March 28, 2021), I’m choosing to focus on Passion Sunday, because I’m impossibly weary of the pseudo-triumph of spectrum ideologies and their Christless slander of love and peace as naive and ineffectual.

Redemptive violence is only expunged at the Cross. Triumphalism is what happens when, bypassing crucifixion with Christ, we live in Triumphal Entry enthusiasm, imagining it is Easter Sunday victory. The lack of scars should clue us in.
 
The appetite for vengeance means we have not yet been transfigured by Love. And who really wants to be? We’ve been convinced that Love is powerless, but wasn’t that sort of the point? But somehow, theologians of the power inverted the Cross and re-imagined it as God’s supreme act of redemptive violence, rather than his final repudiation of it.
 
“When I survey the wondrous Cross, on which the Prince of glory died,” I don’t see divine wrath. I see “sorrow and love flow mingled down” the abdomen of the Oppressed, and all the oppressed for whom He died. How is it that in the name of justice, we’re so quick to find ourselves on the wrong end of the spear…which is to say, wielding it?
 
Look (literally, gaze), Christ doesn’t want our pity. He wants to douse the hellfire of malice in our hearts and incinerate every weapon of wrath we’ve justified and idolized in our fear and John Wayne bravado.
 
“And they will look on Him, the One they have pierced, and they will mourn as one who grieves for the Firstborn” (Zech 12:10)
 
Here are the texts the church has linked for Passion Sunday, demonstrating how the whole of Scripture prefigures the Passion of the Christ:
  • Isaiah 50:4-9a
  • Psalm 31:9-16
  • Philippians 2:5-11
  • Mark 14:1-15:47
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Brad Jersak

Brad Jersak

Brad Jersak is an author and teacher based in Abbotsford, BC. He serves as a reader and monastery preacher at All Saints of North America Orthodox Monastery. Read More