Events move quickly now. By noon, he’ll be heading up the hill to Golgotha, the “Place of the Skull.” The outlines of the plot have been hatched under cover of darkness by men convincing each other that they’ve seen these troublemakers and fake-messiah/insurrectionists before.
We need to protect the nation from Rome crushing us all because of this upstart who won’t keep his focus on rabbinical law but keeps dismissing the traditions and disrespecting leadership. This will not end well. Someone is going to get hurt, and better for one man to die for the people than the people to get crushed because of one mans’ folly and exaggerated sense of self-importance.
This is the perfect timing. The perfect setting. But we’re up against the clock, with the Passover Sabbath starting at sunset. We can use our holy day as leverage with Pilate. We can fudge the details about our customs and religious laws to get that Roman fool to shortchange due process. We’ll get him to see this as a religious issue; after all, what does he care about that? Or even know about it? This is our best chance. But we have to hurry!
And so the shuttle diplomacy and deal-making goes into hyper-drive, from the Sanhedrin and the chief priest to the official residence of the Procurator, to Herod’s palace in the city, to the seat of judgement, all in a few hours of morning light.
Well done. Tidy. Responsible. Adult. The people look to us for leadership, and we delivered …once again. Oh, this wasn’t the first. He won’t be the last. But it was a rather unique case, and we certainly pulled out all the stops to make this happen and keep ourselves out of trouble to boot. Stocking the plaza with people to shout “Crucify him!” on such short notice… that was rather awesome.
High-fives all round!
“What is truth?”, Pilate harrumphed. What is justice, for that matter? These people are conniving chattel. The world will not miss one less, misguided hero de jour, savior of the month, jumpin’ jack flash-in-the-pan. He seems a nice guy, soft-spoken, almost effeminate, if you ask me. He can keep silent all he wants. Does he think that makes him better than me? I’d try harder to help him, but he’s simply not giving me anything to work with here. Just a bunch of riddles. Does he think he’s clever? Does he think I have time to spar intellectually or play his word games?
Good luck to you, buddy. If you can’t meet me halfway here, I wash my hands of the whole thing. I admit, it smells fishy. A kangaroo court for certain. But these Jews and their idiotic rules and laws and punishments–let them work it out. I’ve got plenty of other bones to pick with them; this won’t be a battlefield I die on. I guess you’ll have to.
As injustices go, this was pretty much run-of-the-mill stuff. Guillotines and crucifixes and firing squads and the rack and torture chambers each have their own tragic stories to tell, stories of rushes to judgment, misapplications of law, the Powerful crushing the powerless again and again. It’s a sordid tale, sadly told over and over and over again throughout the ages.
And in one way, this is really the point, isn’t it? Mel Gibson aside, Jesus didn’t have to suffer the worst-ever torture, the most unjust trial, the most gruesome death. It’s enough that he experienced injustice full-force. That he paid the ultimate price for speaking truth to power… and did it anyway. That on Thursday evening he managed to stare down the hours and the horrors ahead of him and give his followers one final command: to love. That he exemplified that love by even forgiving his executioners.
Jesus fully suffered as we may suffer, as many have suffered and as more suffer even today. And he showed us how to face suffering; even suffering caused by bald injustice.
There are many theological, mystical, and perhaps even some mythical, explanations of the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion. For me, for today, it’s enough that he challenges every fiber of my being by how he faced the worst that mankind’s inhumanity could throw at him, and yet his indomitable love shined brighter.
But if anything will save the world, it is Love. And probably only a Good Friday kind of love, at that.
Good Friday, 2017
Sign up here to receive my meditations — http://eepurl.com/cKsPAz