Christians love to talk about glory and victory because we are all Roman imperialists in our secret hearts—in the thoughts that we imagine God cannot hear. We lust after victory. We want to conquer and control. We are the colonial occupiers. We plan and strategize on how to spread our dung piles around. What is especially ugly about our brand of empire is that we do it in the name of the one who was hung in shame, naked on the Cross—the preferred implement of imperial terror in late antiquity.
As such, the storyline of the New Testament is a rejection of both us and Roman imperialism. Jesus rejects all of it, which is not good news for you and me. In Luke 4, the Devil, who avails himself of a kairos under the purview of God the Father, offers it to Jesus, and Jesus says, “No.”
Jesus rejects it. He says no to victory, no to glory, no to achieving heights, no to standing out, no to self-importance. No to all of it. No to everything that we strive for and treasure. Listen carefully to what I’m saying. No, to triumph and no triumphalism. All the things that we love to chant about. Yes, those ugly Roman things that Julias put on a pedestal after he crossed the Rubicon. Jesus says, “No!”
Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Luke 4:13 (Episode 494)
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