Throughout Lent, campus ministry leaders will provide devotions based on the Gospel lectionary scriptures. Jim Magee from Michigan State writes about the power of Jesus’ love to challenge perspectives and change this world for the better.
Executive Director, Wesley Foundation at Michigan State University
“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’” (Matthew 21:8-9, NIV).
Love is dangerous. It challenges people. It changes perspectives. It causes worldviews to be thrown into upheaval.
Love is dangerous to those who find hate comfortable, to those who resist progress, and to those who adhere to the status quo.
Love is dangerous to the systems of Jerusalem and the empire of Rome, and therefore Jesus is dangerous because his love challenged them.
In these verses, Matthew draws clear parallels between Jesus and the Messiah, the ebed Yahweh—the one who was to restore the Kingdom of Heaven, the one who was routinely shown to be of love and grace.
Yet Matthew shows that the people thought they were praising the one who would become the greatest political revolutionary of their time. This savior would throw off the shackles of Roman rule and restore the city of Jerusalem and the physical nation of Judea as that great, unshakable, and eternal kingdom. They were praising a warrior king.
Jesus was not what they expected or wanted. He overturned the tables of the money changers. He criticized the religious elite. He ate with sinners. He welcomed prostitutes. He loved those who felt unloved.
Those who praised Jesus in this passage were the same ones calling for his death days later, when shouts of “Hosanna” turned to “Crucify him!”
But Jesus’ love prevails.
Love is dangerous because it exposes what is wrong with the world and makes demands to see it change. It cuts deep into the wounds of our society like a scalpel to heal it. Love demands restoration, inclusion, and justice.
Michigan State University is still deeply wounded from the events of February 13. The violent tragedy is still at the forefront of the minds of students, faculty, and staff. The destructive hate revealed that day continues to survive, and the systems still in place allow it to be armed.
But Jesus’ love prevails.
We at the Wesley Foundation at MSU, united with our United Methodist family, stand with our community and call for that love to continue challenging perspectives and changing this world for the better. Jesus’ example shows us that love is more powerful than the unjust systems and the hate that utilizes them.
We are reminded that love is dangerous to those who hate, but it is healing for those who suffer.
The demands of love call us to remember Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom of Heaven, the real reason our Messiah came riding a donkey, and work to see that our world resembles it more each day.
God of love, grace, and hope, we thank you for your continued love and faithfulness. We praise you for the example of Christ and the work of your love in this world. We ask for your comforting presence of peace during our times of mourning. Grant us compassion to grieve with those who suffer.
We also ask for your courage to help us continue to stand for what is right, to respond passionately to the demands of love, and to challenge the injustices that cause so much harm. Finally, we pray to see Jesus’ Kingdom represented here and now in the compassionate acts of your people, as we strive to make our world a little more like heaven. Amen.
Last Updated on March 29, 2023