Fomenting – instigating or stirring up a violent course of action. This is what is happening in Ukraine. At least this is what it seems to me.
Provocateurs being directed by Russian leaders are stirring up unrest. They’re making something of almost nothing. They’re creating discord between two groups of people whose biggest difference is their language preference.
People in Ukraine, like everywhere, want a better life. And, with the fomenting, some are deciding that the way for a better life is to return to Russia.
They look to Russia and think they’ll have food, and health care. They imagine that they will have education, and shelter, and stability.
While we fuss and fume, Putin picks the lint off of his jacket and waits for Ukraine to fight back.
This is happening today. And I’m guessing that Ukrainian boys holed up in police stations, swearing loyalty to Russia … will be killed by Ukrainian forces.
And when this happens, Putin will have all the reason he needs to step in and “rescue” the separatists. What else would a good mother do?
This week as I watch events unfold in Ukraine, I’m also remembering another fomenting.
This one happened nearly 2000 years ago when a group of religious leaders, provocateurs, stirred up a restless crow. “Crucify!” they cried.
And the crowd, who had just days before lay down palms, and robes, and graced him with a chorus of “Hosannas!” changed their tune.
Within days their allegiance turned from the Son of David to the provocateurs. They responded to the fomenting. “Crucify!”
“How could they turn so quickly?” we wonder.
I like to think that I would have had the discernment, the courage to wave my palm branch all week long. But I know how tempting it is to follow the crowd. To be swayed by the provocateurs. They’re loud. They’re scary. They’re persuasive. So many turned.
But not everyone.
Standing by the cross of Jesus
were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene. John 19:25
Standing by the cross were these three women. While the provocateurs derided, and mocked, “Save yourself!”
These three women stood by the cross of Jesus.
As darkness covered the land and his pure heart became filled with sin, these three women stood.
As the Father turned his gaze and the curtain of temple and flesh was torn top to bottom, they stood.
Their allegiance was with Jesus. In spite of the threat. In spite of the confusion. In spite of it all. They stood by the cross of Jesus.
They followed Jesus, not the crowd. They didn’t respond to the pressure, the threats, the angry voices. They stood.
What about us? Regardless of our differences, our varying views, can we stand by the cross of Jesus? Can we say that this is what matters? What really matters? When the provocateurs get tired and go home, or work themselves into a destructive lather, can we join hands and stand by the cross of Jesus? When the world seems to fall apart around us, can we stand by the cross of Jesus?
What would it be like if you and me together stood by the cross of Jesus? What would it be like if we considered him instead of the provocateurs? What if we didn’t respond to the fomenting? What would it be like if we simply stood by the cross of Jesus?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Would you leave a comment, please? And would you consider sharing this post with a friend or two who craves the simplicity of standing of by the cross of Jesus? And one more thing, would you join me in praying for Ukraine?