My Two Cents
June 7, 2020, 8:00 AM

Behold The man. His body is displayed for all the world to see. He is spread out, unable to move. He is pinned to where he has been fastened. He gasps for breath. Those who could have stopped it, stand idly by. He calls out for his mother.

Ever so slowly oxygen is cut off from the brain where his breathing is regulated. First he loses consciousness. Then his heart stops. He is tended to, but it is too late. He has been killed by uniformed officers acting under the authority of the state.

So it was for George Floyd.

So it was for Jesus of Nazareth.

There is perhaps no match for the power of the image of Jesus hanging on the cross. How many prayers have been lifted up to this image? How many movements have begun based on its compelling power? How many lives have been turned around? How many children have been educated? How many followers baptized? How many spirits comforted? How many lives lost? How many worship experiences offered? How many books written? How much music composed?

Rome meant for crucifixion to provide a lasting image of humiliation. Rome meant for the humiliation to be as much the example as the death itself.  And at first the followers of Jesus were reluctant to accept the image of the cross as the symbol of their movement for this very reason. For a while the followers of Jesus were the people of the fish.

Ironically, it wasn’t until Rome was in charge of Christianity that the cross became its symbol. Since then the cross has worked its way into our corporate psyche. Since then the image of Jesus dying on the cross has been the thing.

Last week we were all witnesses to the most recent version of crucifixion. We all watched helplessly as a man’s life was slowly snuffed out under the knee of the powers and principalities. We were all outraged that those who were there didn’t do a thing to make it stop.  And over the course of this week we have seen and heard (and in some cases, smelled, felt and tasted) the power of that image.

The image of George Floyd dying next to the wheel of a police cruiser under the weight of an unperturbed man in uniform will never be as popular as the image of Jesus on the cross. But those of us in the crowd- those of us who watched helplessly from our living rooms- now have an opportunity to make this terrible death matter.

We weren’t able to respond then, but we are able to respond now. And one day by the grace of God we will say – or maybe our children will say- that it was George Floyd’s death that made the difference.

Shalom, Rick