John Dominic Crossan argues that the crucial difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Rome is that one is nonviolent and the other is not. Forging swords into the shape of a cross is the ultimate perversion of who Jesus was and what he taught.
The crowds shouted on Palm Sunday because they thought that Jesus had come as a revolutionary messiah who would reward them and punish Rome. They weren’t happy when Jesus turned out to have a different vision of life, a vision of mercy, forgiveness, and peace for which he was willing to die.
Ironically, when Palm Sunday turned to Good Friday, the accusations leveled against Jesus indicated that subversion was exactly his crime:
We found this fellow subverting the nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.
Luke 23:1 2
So, which was it? Did they kill Jesus because he wouldn’t lead a revolt against Rome, or did they force the Romans to kill Jesus because he was a revolutionary subverting the nation?
Perhaps it was both. That’s what happens when faith marries Empire. We feel betrayed when the values of our faith leader (Jesus) contradict the real religion of our Empire: Capitalism. We can’t be unpatriotic toward our country, and we can’t crucify Jesus again. Instead, we wrap him in the flag of our empire and make him pro-war (or at least anti-terrorist), anti-taxes, middle-class, light-skinned, and blond. In other words, we make him look and act an awful lot like us, and then he is no danger to the empire, our value system, our profits …
And Jesus weeps and prays again for Golgotha.
Rev. Michael Piazza