The Common Good
March-April 1996

A Tradition of Resistance

by Gordon Cosby | March-April 1996

The great deliverer of the Hebrew people was Moses.

The great deliverer of the Hebrew people was Moses. Key to Moses' survival was the breaking of Pharaoh's instructions: "Then the King of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives...'When you serve as a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him....' But the midwives were godfearing women and did not heed the king's words" (Exodus 1:15-17).

Without the breaking of the empire's law by the midwives and by Moses' parents, what is perhaps the greatest deliverance in history would not have occurred. Thus begins one of the great chapters of my tradition.

Jesus is in that same tradition and had to break with the purity laws of his people. He broke with the perversions of that tradition when he symbolically cleansed the temple. His sentence was not a 30-day unsupervised probation and a letter to be written to Pilate, his judge. His sentence was death by torture and crucifixion. My simple and relatively cost-less act is in his honor and in keeping with the nature of the God he revealed. I shudder to think of the world's destiny without Jesus and his civil disobedience.

N. Gordon Cosby was pastor of Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C., and a Sojourners contributing editor when this article appeared.

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