Jesus said to the Pharisees:
"There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day.
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man's table.
But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets.
Let them listen to them.'
He said, 'Oh no, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
Then Abraham said,
'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded
if someone should rise from the dead.'
I am especially caught by the line “neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.” Hello! This is the story of Jesus! Apparently, this is not persuasive. So what is persuasive? Moses and the prophets. I think it is interesting that Jesus doesn’t just say Moses or he doesn’t say Torah or he doesn’t say Elijah. He says Moses and the prophets. Moses represents the Pentateuch or Torah or law while prophets represent speaking truth to power while generally fighting for the underdog. Prophets pop up in Hebrew Scripture whenever the “widow, the orphan, and the stranger among us” is being treated poorly. The law is there to ensure that the marginalized are cared for. Ultimately, Jesus is calling for a return to this model. Boy, we (societal we) have gone dreadfully off course.
I have all kinds of thoughts swirling through my brain about surrendering our seat at the table and letting those without a voice have a voice. But even this is from a position of power. We cannot give up our power without knowing we are in a superior position from a life circumstance. It is a hard call. This giving up of power. Sharing power. Empowering others. Perhaps the ultimate strength is found in weakness and that is the story of the cross. That Jesus stayed strong, true to his understanding of Torah, true to his understanding of truth, and true to his understanding of God. In spite of being asked, cajoled, and threatened. Jesus stayed who he is. Even unto ultimate weakness…death.
That is my hope this year. That I can stay strong to my vision of God even in the face of power structures that would take the life-giving aspects of God and twist them to suit their own purposes. This line of staying within the power structure while calling out the power structure is very thin.
Moses = love of God and neighbor; Prophets = speak truth to power
But heck, at least I don’t live in Jerusalem! (Luke 13:33)