From the Wikimedia Commons description of the photo: “The Sarcophagus of Marcus Claudianus (ca. 330-335, Palazzo Massimo, Rome): Detail, The Arrest of Peter. Peter is taken away by two soldiers in pillbox hats. On the left, the person pointing to Peter is most likely Herod, who orders his arrest in Acts 12. Or possibly the rolled-up scroll in his hands signifies that he is the high priest who orders all the apostles imprisoned in Acts 5.”
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By a perversion of justice he was taken away. – Isaiah 53:7-8a
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34
Silence, Jesus? Excuses, Jesus? In truth, I want a louder Savior. I want a firebrand, I want a chief. I want a voice that echoes from the hills.
I do not want excuses. I do not want a suffering servant satisfied with our perverted justice, consenting with your silence.
For heaven’s sake, shake the heavens! For earth’s sake, rattle the earth! For the oppressed’s sake, break the bonds! For humanity’s sake, do something!
Don’t – don’t – make excuses. Not for them. Not for us. Not even – dare I say it? Don’t make excuses for me.
I do not need excusing, Jesus. No, I need forgiving. Excuses will not change the world: Repentance and forgiveness might.
Suffering Savior, keep your silence: but do not keep your peace. We who witness your great love weep for your peace.
I wrote this song in the fall of 2018, when a number of conversations turned to a wish for Jesus to come along and start to flip some tables. I expected it to be a rousing, even raucous anthem: but it turned to lament.
They’re changing money in the temple, Jesus. They’re not giving full value for each coin. They’re changing money in the temple, Jesus. They’ve turned a house of prayer… Into a house of thieves…
What are you going to do about it, Jesus? The gold is piled high… What are you going to do about it, Jesus? Do you see where the gold… lies?
They’re piling money in the towers, Jesus. They won’t even pay the builders their full coin. They’re piling money in the towers, Jesus. They’ve given all that power… Into the hands of thieves…
[Chorus] Listen… to the gold lies. Listen… to the golden lies.
We’ve exchanged our priests for tycoons, Jesus. We’ve given our worship to the coin. We’ve traded priests for tycoons, Jesus. We’ve given our allegiance… To generations of thieves…
What are you going to do about it, Jesus? The gold is piled high… What are you going to do about it, Jesus? Or the tables, where the gold… lies?
Flip the tables: the gold… flies! Toss the tables, Jesus. Make the gold… fly!
Jar a-tilting, oil spilling, aroma filling, nostrils widen.
Hair uncovered, tresses flowing, oil clutching to her locks.
Soft voice speaking to her weeping: “Thank you, Mary, for your gift.”
A poem/prayer based on John 12:1-8, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Fifth Sunday in Lent.
Illustration from a 1684 Arabic manuscript of the Gospels, copied in Egypt by Ilyas Basim Khuri Bazzi Rahib (likely a Coptic monk). In the collection of The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Md. (on page 51 of the .pdf copy of the document released by the museum under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license).