Jesus exercised divine power during his sojourn on earth, as he engaged the oppressor through love, sacrifice and service; always embracing the Other. Jesus was showing us the narrow way which leads to life.
Jesus’ disciples follow him on an open-ended journey, full of adventure and encounters. He challenges us to lead by service, by becoming last. Instead of lording power over people, He calls us to empower the powerless. This involves standing in resistance to and protesting against oppressive power exerted all around, not by taking up swords, but as ambassadors of truth, peace, justice and reconciliation. It is helpful to remember that non-violence does not mean non-resistance, and most certainly does not mean non-forceful.
We need to take comfort in the fact that when we follow the way of the crucified, we do not stand alone; Christ is with us, and the Holy Spirit dwells in us. When we stand in resistance to oppressive power structures, we participate in the divine act of freedom and are likely to participate in the divine suffering, as those who are mocked and abandoned. Would you qualify this suffering as meaningless?
The cross was Jesus’ final act of resistance to human powers of domination. The cross teaches that along with suffering and death, it was also the moment of freedom. The least likely subject, a thief, confessed Jesus’ divine origin (Luke 23:42). Here was God in his humanity, with perishable man, imparting him life. Jesus on the cross did not communicate man’s striving for divinity, but rather the humanity of God. The union of life-giving Jesus with death occurred for the sake of life. The cross reveals that that love is the essential nature of divine power. No wonder the Roman soldier who once stood mocking at the cross, confessed saying, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39). Wouldn’t the world become a beautiful place if we, by faith, imitated God’s love?