Jesus’ Ministerial Vision

SistersA Holy Week rebound from Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk (1993) by Dolores Williams.

The image of Jesus on the cross is the image of human sin in its most desecrated form. This execution destroyed the body, by publicly exposing his nakedness and private parts, by mocking his ministerial vision as they labeled him king of the Jews, by placing a crown of thorns upon his head mocking his dignity and the integrity of his divine mission. The cross thus becomes an image of defilement, a gross manifestation of collective human sin. Rather, Jesus conquers the sin of temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11) by resistance–by resisting the temptation to value the material over the spiritual; by resisting death; by resisting the greedy urge of monopolistic ownership. Jesus therefore conquered sin in life, not in death. In the wilderness he refused to allow evil forces to defile the balanced relation between the material and the spiritual, between life and death, between power and the exertion of it.

What this allows the womanist theologian to show black women is that God did not intend the surrogacy roles they have been forced to perform. God did not intend the defilement of their bodies as white men put them in the place of white women to provide sexual pleasure for white men during the slavocracy. This was rape. Rape is defilement, and defilement means wanton desecration…

The resurrection of Jesus and the kingdom of God theme in Jesus’ ministerial vision provide black women with the knowledge that God has, through Jesus, shown humankind how to live peacefully, productively and abundantly in relationship. Jesus showed humankind as vision of righting relations between body, mind and spirit through an ethical ministry of words (such as the beatitudes, the parables, the moral directions and reprimands); through a healing ministry of touch and being touched (for example, healing the leper through touch; being touched by the woman with an issue of blood); through a militant ministry of expelling evil forces (such as exorcising the demoniacs, whipping the moneychangers out of the temple); through a ministry grounded in the power of faith (in the work of healing); through a ministry of prayer (he often withdrew from the crowd to pray); through a ministry of compassion and love.

Humankind is, then, redeemed through Jesus’ ministerial vision of life and not through his death. There is nothing divine in the blood of the cross. God does not intend black women’s surrogacy experience. Neither can Christian faith affirm such an idea. Jesus did not come to be a surrogate. Jesus came for life, to show humans a perfect vision of ministerial relation that humans had very little knowledge of. As Christians, black women cannot forget the cross, but neither can they glorify it. To do so is to glorify suffering and to render their exploitation sacred. To do so is to glorify the sin of defilement.

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