Posted by: smstrouse | March 23, 2013

The Great and Powerful Wizard of – Jerusalem?!

Saw Oz, the Great and Powerful last night. Dang, even on my day off, I can’t help  thinking about work.

In the scene when Oscar Diggs is being led into the Emerald City after crashing to earth in a hot air balloon, he’s welcomed, hailed and cheered on by a crowd who acclaim him as their long-awaited savior, a great and powerful wizard. But all of this acclamation comes with big expectations: this great and powerful one will save the people from the evil forces that are oppressing them.  Hmm, I thought, this sounds like Jesus on Palm Sunday.

The big question was: how was he going to accomplish this?  The wizard, that is. Well, Jesus too. The crowd in Jerusalem came out to welcome a great king and warrior, the long-awaited messiah-deliverer. Unlike Oscar, Jesus knew what he was doing – and what he was getting himself into. Oscar doesn’t and finally confesses to Glinda the Good that he isn’t a wizard at all. Glinda the  Perspicacious says, “I know. You’re not the wizard I expected but you are the one we need.”

Now the comparison does quickly break down. You can’t compare this con man, magician, lothario-cum-wizard to Jesus. Although there certainly are those who would want to attribute some of Jesus’ activities (not to mention the resurrection) as a lot of ‘smoke and mirrors.’  But Glinda’s recognition of who and what Oscar could be raises questions for anyone professing to be a follower of Jesus: what do we expect from Jesus? If we don’t believe in our need for a ‘savior from our sins,’ then who and what is Jesus? What is it that is oppressing us, from what do we need deliverance? What did the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, the crucifixion and the resurrection mean?

I suspect that most of us would like to have a wizard-Jesus or wizard-God enter into our lives and make our troubles magically disappear. I’ll confess that in times of trial, I revert to wanting the All-Powerful, Great and Terrible Oz to come down and fix things. But is that the God I need? No.  Is that the God Jesus showed us in his life? No.

I love the Jesus who produces this masterful guerrilla theater parade of palms into Jerusalem – in contrast to the pomp and show of military might across town as Pilate entered the city. His way of peace, his way of justice and facing down oppressors is not the quick-fix we might want. But this is the way we need.

I am glad to be part of the parade.

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