I was just thinking about this whole situation with Barak Obama and his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, (read here) and it suddenly occurred to me that this scenario is slightly familiar. As this is Holy Week, there is no doubt that you will see countless reenactments of the cruxifiction, the passion, the journey, or whatever you want to call it. I watched a couple of stories last night on the Travel Channel and the History Channel. It's that time of year when we reflect on Jesus' journey leading up to Easter Sunday.
Allow me to draw a similarity here. Jesus was a revolutionary. He was highly controversial and his statements brought an incredible measure of offence to the establishment and the powers that be; hence, their plot to kill him. He was not a friend of the political system nor the governmental structure. He was not embraced by mainstream Jerusalem as a patriot or regarded as a gifted teacher or theologian. As a matter of fact, they hated and despised him. Called him a heretic and a blasphemer. He was so outrageous that the whole nation wanted him crucified.
One of the most notable points in the recantation of Jesus' journey to cruxifiction is the moment where Peter, one of his closest and most long standing followers, chooses to deny him. Three times. We all know the story. Jesus told Peter that he would deny him, Peter said no way Lord, never. Jesus told him that he would do it three times before the cock crowed. Well, not only did Peter deny him, but he cursed (denounced and rejected) knowing him. After Peter realized what he had done, he was broken. He had to go and get himself together, but he eventually became one of the great leaders of the church and author of at least two books of the bible.
What's my point? Glad you asked. Ecclesiastes 1:9 states that there is no new thing under the sun. Character assassination for political gain is not a new thing. The Church being attacked is not a new thing. Spiritual leaders being controversial and making unpopular statements is not a new thing. Preachers offending politicians and heads of state is not a new thing. Followers denying and distancing themselves from their leaders out of fear or for personal gain is not a new thing. Fast forward 2,008 years.
Am I comparing Rev. Wright to Jesus? Not in the sense of his doctrine or teachings. I haven't heard one message that he's taught. He could be right on or way off. Doesn't matter...that's not my point.
My point is, there will ALWAYS be a separation between church and state. The church is supposed to carry out the mission of telling the truth, even when it's unpopular or politically incorrect. For those followers who claim allegiance to the kingdom of God and operate in the political or governmental system, it causes them to walk on thin ice. Many get away for years with having private beliefs and a public agenda. I believe that's what may have prompted Peter's adamant public denial of Christ. Maybe he had political aspirations too. Maybe he was concerned about the financial implications on his fishing business if he were publicly connected to a revolutionary. He knew that his leader was a controversial figure. He walked with him, heard him teach, fellowshipped with him, all the while harboring a secret fear that this relationship could come back to haunt him. Jesus already knew this. That's why he had the foresight to tell Peter exactly what he would do when put in that situation, even though Peter didn't want to believe him.
I wonder if Rev. Wright had that same conversation with Barak Obama. "Barak, before this campaign is over, you will have to deny me."
Did Barak do the right thing? I don't know. Did Peter do the right thing? He did what he felt like he had to do. His leader already knew that he would have to do it and then prepared him for it. Was Jesus betrayed, wounded or offended by Peter's actions? No. He was already prepared for it. He understood who he was called to be and who Peter was called to be. Jesus knew his mission and he knew Peter's mission.
He understood that in order for one to live, the other had to die.