How often have prominent public figures had to walk back, clarify, or disown public comments in response to a social media protest? A recent Pew Research poll showed that only about 25% of American adults use Twitter, and about 25% of those people write 97% of all Tweets. Yet, journalists, politicians, executives, individuals, and others often feel they need to bow to Twitter and other social media or be “cancelled.” I’m not sure which is more worrisome, that so few largely anonymous Twitter users have so much power, or that even U.S. presidents sometimes yield to them.
Paradoxically, while the pandemic has shaken many people’s confidence in authority, at the same time some worldly authorities are claiming more power, having failed so miserably to manage the pandemic and its ripple effects. To me, a lesson of the pandemic was: “See all these things people trust in? They can all be torn down overnight.” It has left a lot of people shaken. Those we used to trust aren’t trustworthy, but where else can we turn?
The authorities respond: “Just give us more power and we will try again, but harder. Ignore the evidence and trust us.”
The authorities of Jesus’ time were pretty lousy themselves. In the greatest abuse of authority in history, they killed Him on a cross on Good Friday, humiliating Him publicly for all of history to see. The rebel Barabbas was released by Roman political authorities instead of Jesus because of the cries of an angry mob stirred up by a few Jewish religious authorities jealous of Jesus’ appeal and resentful of His claims of authority. Astonishingly, it’s not entirely unlike Twitter. In modern times, the mob wouldn’t even need to show up to have Jesus killed, the “influencers” would just have to start #CrucifyHim trending and people would follow along just to be seen holding the popular view. If Jesus’ message of love and hope for mankind died with Him, where can we turn?
Fortunately, we have Easter, where Jesus responds: “You hit me with all the power you have, and it wasn’t enough. Even the grave cannot hold Me. I rose from the dead and now sit at the right hand of the Father, in the place of ultimate authority. The tomb is empty. Observe the evidence and trust Me!”
Jesus is risen indeed!
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we pray, O LORD!
O LORD, we pray, give us success!” – Psalm 118:22-25