Review and Response to “Fight Like Jesus” by Jason Porterfield

I read this book during Lent, which was the perfect time to read such a book. And let me just say – WOW! Great book. I highly recommend it.

For our purposes here, I’m going to break down the review of the book similar to what the book does – takes a fresh look at each day of Holy Week. But for today, I’m starting with the lens that we are called to see Holy Week through. It sets up everything else for the entire week.

Porterfield lays the argument out right at the beginning – Christianity has been missing the the proper lens of Holy Week for a long time. In our Palm Sunday Lectionary, we leave out the essential passage that would give us a different perspective for seeing the whole of Holy Week and what Jesus was up to. But when we read the fuller context, it changes so much to Holy Week, and in a deeper, more meaningful way. A way that I find to be much richer and inspiring.

Porterfield argues that the key to understanding Holy Week takes place on Sunday as Jesus enters Jerusalem – The crowds are cheering and waving palm branches, they have an expectation of what the Messiah will do. And they are off. “Amid all the excitement, nobody seemed to notice that one person was not celebrating. He was not rejoicing. He was not smiling. He was not having a good time. In fact, he was crying. The Gospel of Luke tells us that while the crowd shouting cheers, Jesus shed tears. (Luke 19:41).” (Pg. 19)

Jesus laments his entry into Jerusalem because as Luke 19 tells us, “As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42)

The missing lens…is peace. If you look at the events of Holy Week through the lens that Jesus was wagging peace while everyone else was waging violence, and you’ll see Holy Week in a whole different light. And it raises questions for us – how are we to respond to Jesus and his waging peace in the midst of great violence and death?

Lent is a time of self-examination and this book is an ideal partner to walk with in that examination, opening ourselves to what Jesus is up to in our lives, and how we are transformed so that we can participate in what God is up to, inviting others into God’s work of bringing about the Kingdom of God in our midst.

Once we have this lens, the next question becomes how we define peace. For many reasons expressed in the book, peace = shalom. Shalom though goes far beyond what we think of as peace in our secular culture. Shalom is the very essence of the Kingdom of God. “It indicates harmony, health, and wholeness in all aspects of life. Shalom exists when all our relationships are flourishing; our relationship with God, with each other, with creation, and even with ourselves. It is the state in which everything is as it ought to be, as God intended for it to be.” (Pg. 24).

And Shalom, that peace, “can never coexist with injustice.” (Pg. 24-25).

Sunday, I’ll share with you how Jesus waged peace on Palm Sunday.

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