As we approach Holy Week and Easter, I am always amazed at how Jesus blazed a trail forward in his life. He showed us how to live as mortals in a divine way, connected to God, in service to those around us and how to walk humbly with God.
I have been humbled to contemplate the intense devotion and trust it took for Jesus to walk into his own crucifixion. I have wondered whether I would be able to bear that kind of cross in the moment of truth. And, I know I do not.
I honor what a powerful demonstration it was for Jesus to be crucified by “enemies”. Loving them was an embodiment of his core teaching around loving one’s enemy. “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” Jesus' fulfillment of the Law of the Torah was simple. “Love God and thy neighbor as thyself”.
I am grateful for Jesus’ demonstration of the social gospel in his short ministry. He showed us that it is not enough to awaken spiritually and bask in our enjoyment of worship and liturgy but that we must also commit to bettering our society and making this planet a better place to live for all people.
Jesus offered an inspiring example for us of how to relate to the sick, the mentally ill, and those with low social status. He showed us that we must truly behave as if we are truly one in Spirit – we cannot let our brothers and sisters suffer because we ourselves suffer when that happens. We are all connected. The poor, the downtrodden, the diseased, and the abused are all part of each of us. And some of that is in each of us.
I love that he held Mary Magdalene close to him in his public ministry even though it was a patriarchal time and the male disciples were likely threatened by his closeness to her. I am saddened that some churches venerated her as a prostitute even though there was no evidence against her - ever!
I am grateful that He walked a pathway of peace and nonviolence, even when those around him wanted to create him into their prophesied Messiah - effectively a new Hebrew king. Even though many Zealots wanted him to take on that Kingship role and overthrow the old powers with violence, Jesus chose the way of peace and nonviolence. I wish I were more like that.
Finally, I am grateful that Jesus was the first to demonstrate that becoming Christ-like is possible on this planet for all people, even in the midst of a fearful and violent culture. As we evolve modern cultures with more protected rights, we can take heart that it becomes easier every year for us to emerge without persecuting them or putting them to death. Yes, I am against the death penalty.
Jesus was so far ahead of his time and became a Christ being without any peers, he put himself at considerable risk, leading to his premature death and the curtailment of his ministry, and I honor him for being willing to break new ground for all of us. We are to make disciples in his image which would immensely benefit this modern world we live in today.
I guess that I am just thankful for His ministry and what it still teaches us today.
~The Rev. William Zettinger
Bill was ordained to the Diaconate by San Diego Bishop James Mathes in June 2007. He is a fourth generation Episcopalian who was born in Brooklyn, NY. Before ordained ministry, he worked in the aerospace and communications industry as an electronics engineer, program manager and executive.