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Summary: Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.” He was sending his disciples out just Like he is sending you out this morning to be revolutionaries. This sermons focus is on the 3 R's of Revolution!

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To Believe John 20:19-21 (Message)

19-20 Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side.

20-21 The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”

To say that Jesus of Nazareth was the most influential man who ever lived is almost trite. Nearly two thousand years after he was brutally executed by Roman soldiers, more than 2.2 billion human beings attempt to follow his teachings and believe he is God. That includes 77 percent of the U.S. population, according to a Gallup Poll.

The teachings of Jesus have shaped the entire world and continue to do so.”

In the end, there are only two hard historical facts about Jesus of Nazareth upon which everyone has to agree: the first is that Jesus was a Jew who led a popular Jewish movement in Palestine at the beginning of the first century c.e.; the second is that Rome crucified him for doing so.

By themselves these two facts cannot provide a complete portrait of the life of a man who lived two thousand years ago. But when combined with all we know about the tumultuous era in which Jesus lived - and thanks to the Romans, we know a great deal. We know that the Jesus of history was a Rebel and a Revolutionary.

Consider this: Crucifixion was a punishment that Rome reserved almost exclusively for the crime of sedition. The plaque the Romans placed above Jesus' head as he writhed in pain - "King of the Jews" - was called a titulus and, despite common perception, was not meant to be sarcastic.

Every criminal who hung on a cross received a plaque declaring the specific crime for which he was being executed. Jesus' crime, in the eyes of Rome, was striving for kingly rule (i.e. treason), the same crime for which nearly every other messianic aspirant of the time was killed. Nor did Jesus die alone.

The gospels claim that on either side of Jesus hung men who in Greek are called lestai, a word often rendered into English as "thieves" but that actually means "bandits" and was the most common Roman designation for an insurrectionist or rebel. I have known some bandits and I have known some rebels. By definition a ban·dit is a noun that means a robber or outlaw belonging to a gang and typically operating in an isolated or lawless area. And a rebel is a noun that means a person who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or ruler.

Oh On Calvary’s Hill we see three rebels on a hill covered in crosses, each cross bearing the racked and bloodied body of a man who dared defy the will of Rome.

There have been some who have sought to portray Jesus as a political revolutionary. They have sought his endorsement, if you will, of their own political causes. In response, more traditional Christians have denied the revolutionary intent of Jesus, affirming that his efforts were spiritual in focus, and basically irrelevant to matters of governing and economics.

In my opinion, both sides of this argument miss the point of Jesus’ message and ministry. To be sure, he was not your run of the mill political revolutionary. Nor was Jesus a New Age Ted Talking Spiritual Guru/Bandit. Nor was he the a typical Rebel with weapons and military attack.

In fact, when the authorities came to arrest him on the night prior to his crucifixion, Jesus stopped the efforts of his disciples to fight with weapons.

He asked those who sought to seize him, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary,...that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me?” (22:53). In the original Greek of this passage, Jesus said, “Am I a Bandit...?” Yet the Greek word for thief/Bandit (lestes) was used in this time for a guerilla movement that sought to fight against the Romans (see Josephus, Jewish War, 2.13.3).

So our translation properly renders the sense of Jesus’ question. He was asking, “Am I your typical revolutionary?” The answer, of course, was “No.”

But, though Jesus refrained from armed, political opposition to Roman authority, he was indeed a revolutionary in another sense.

He proclaimed the kingdom of God, hailing God alone as the one true King over heaven and earth. He called his followers, as citizens/members of God’s kingdom, to live in a radically different way on earth.

Rather than hating their enemies, they were to love them.

Rather than seeking revenge, the disciples of Jesus were to turn the other cheek.

No ordinary revolutionary would say things like this.

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