Jesus & The Wiz
On reading that Broadway was reproducing the classic 1970s musical The Wiz, we were reminded of one of its most memorable songs, Ease on Down the Road, sung by a spirited Diana Ross (Dorothy) and Michael Jackson (Scarecrow) while on their way to see The Wiz (Richard Pryor).
The song tells us don’t you carry nothing that might be a load, come on, ease on down, ease on down the road.
For Progressive Christians called by Jesus to repeatedly lay down our lives for others1, this is good advice. We are not asked to carry the burdens of others, but to lift up the fallen. Jesus teaches this in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The charitable man from Samaria doesn’t fret over the fate and circumstances of his fallen brethren but lifts him up from the road, does what he can to tend to the man’s needs, then eases on down, eases on down the road..
When we Christians feel compelled to carry the burdens of others, more often than not, it reveals a compulsion to martyrdom: a strong desire to identify ourselves with Jesus on the Cross. But it was through life and joy that Jesus sought to teach us about the kingdom of God (The Wiz), not through suffering and death.
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- This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life to receive it again. No one took it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to receive it again. This is the command which I received from my Father. – John 10:17-18 [↩]