We had a wonderful Palm Sunday service, and the sermon was on a text that I don’t think I’ve ever noticed before, Deuteronomy 32:36-39. Moses says that “When he sees that their power is gone,” that is the time when “the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.” When their power is gone! What a passage for Law & Gospel and the Theology of the Cross vs. the Theology of Glory!
Postmodernists reduce everything–culture, law, government, morality, religion–to power. One group is exercising power over someone else, and all of the veneer of civilization is just a mask to hide that fact. So goes postmodernist cynicism. (Notice how we Christians play into that mindset and confirm it when we create the impression that what we seek is political power.)
One line of apologetics to the postmodernists is to say that, yes, that does explain a lot. But there is one counter-example. One religion that is all about not power but the abdegnation of power. God who emptied Himself of power: Jesus on the Cross.
And this text reminds me that Christians too meet Jesus when our “power is gone,” when we admit that we are broken sinners, that we are powerless. And that’s when the very different power from what postmodernists cynics bemoan manifests itself. Not an oppressive power but a liberating power. A saving power that raised Jesus from the dead and that in compassion will “vindicate” us too, raising us from every kind of death.
Pastor Douthwaite did a lot with this text. Read the whole via sermon, which includes the quotation I gave above. I remain haunted by this:
Besides, no matter how powerless you are, no matter how low, no matter how tired and weak and piled upon, you will never be at the bottom of the pecking order.
That spot is reserved for one person: Jesus.