August 21 is a national holiday in honor of Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino — a Filipino icon who struggled against Martial Law and the Marcos dictatorship. He fought for what he believed in, and he was assassinated because of that. He probably prophesied his own death when he said, “A Filipino is worth dying for.”
In our lifetime we have encountered and will encounter heroes like Ninoy Aquino, Martin Luther King Jr., and others. They are not like the superheroes of Marvel or DC, but real flesh and blood like us. They were inspired by someone or something, and they gave their life for a cause. But long before them, there was Jesus who gave his life for our salvation. Jesus was actually executed as a rebel. This means that his death was not just a spiritual matter. It also had a political dimension.
What did Jesus die for aside for the remission of our sins and the salvation of our souls? What are the things that he stood for? Let me mention a few.
First, Jesus was against anyone or anything that hinders people from achieving a meaningful life.
In John 10 Jesus describes himself as a good shepherd. A shepherd is not someone who just stand by and watch. A shepherd not only leads the sheep to green pastures and still waters but also fights the wolves and robbers that would try to harm or take the sheep.
As Christians we need to lead people towards a meaningful life, and that involves identifying and fighting the “wolves” that hinder us from having it.
Second, Jesus fought for freedom.
The Israelites during Jesus’ time were under the Roman Empire. When Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God, he was telling everyone that the reign of God is better than the emperor of the Roman Empire or the leadership of the Israelites. The Roman Empire and the Israelite leadership were enslaving the people in many ways. Jesus taught that the only way to be free is to accept the reign of God in their lives.
As Christians we need to fight any form of slavery and proclaim that God is in the side of those who fight for freedom because God wants us all to be free.
Third, Jesus empowered the marginalized.
A lot of powerful people were angry with Jesus. When Jesus overturned the tables of the merchants and priests in the Temple who were overcharging and exploiting the people, he was empowering those who were in the margins of society. In turn, he got the ire of powerful people and he was marked for execution.
As Christians we need to stand for what is right and we need to be angry if there is any form of exploitation. And if there is a need for it, we are to sacrifice our lives for the cause of Jesus.