Jesus mobilized poor people to challenge the religious and economic establishment. And he did this as a teacher without material possessions. At the time, many viewed him as powerless.
Sometimes we feel powerless too. But with God we are powerful. And, if we are honest with ourselves, many of us have some measure of societal power as well because of our access to information and technology, and to clean water and plenty of food. Sometimes we keep this small sense of power to ourselves.
Once you recognize your perspective, your power, and your vulnerabilities, you can decide the most strategic role for you to play in a nonviolent direct action.
The roles required for a given action will vary based on tactics.
Read Mark 11:1-25.
Complete ten rounds of "square breathing," which activates the parasympathetic nervous system, and a prayer.
Square breathing is:
Four seconds inhale deeply from the belly.
Four seconds hold.
Four seconds exhale from the belly.
Four seconds hold.
Jesus turning over tables at the temple is an example of a strategic nonviolent direct action. The event occurred after the triumphal entry, which, in and of itself, was a public witness to a nonviolent alternative to imperial oppression. After his entry into Jerusalem, he went to the temple and looked around, but it was late, so he went back to Bethany, near the place where the march started. Jesus went back to the temple the next day to address what was going on there. His direct action was to overturn the tables of the money changers, and let the animals raised for sacrificing go free. His talking points were the words of the prophets Isaiah (56:7) and Jeremiah (7:11). It is considered nonviolent, because he did not harm people. His aim was to stop economic oppression.
In the video, Nekeisha named the temple cleansing as a form of nonviolent direct action. Brainstorm other examples of nonviolent direct action in the Bible. Write the list on a large board, and discuss why you think these examples should be included.
Here are some prominent examples, if you want help getting started: Shifrah and Puah (Exodus 1:15-19), the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8).
Small group/partner discussion questions:
- How would you choose your role in a direct action?
- What criteria would you use to make that decision?
Large group discussion question:
Name everyone's role in Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and the cleansing of the temple, even though the narrative of the story only focuses on Jesus. Verses 1-11 and 18-19 offer clues about what some other people were doing in order to make that action possible. For example, who provide lodging for the activists, both the night before and the night after their action?
Close in prayer.