Scripture: Luke 23:1-49
It is always difficult to read this passage of scripture. The violence portrayed by nearly everyone, if you really were to imagine it, would give many people nightmares. Imagine the scene. For many of us it is not to difficult, hollywood has given us plenty of images. But really imagine it. Imagine you were a servant in the courts of these government official, that just happened to be cleaning up as a crowd of angry people stormed into the courtyard.
I suggest a servant of the court at first because the servant would not know the inner workings of the government. That is really where most of us would be. We only hear stories about what is going on inside and outside our community, but we do not really know how those stories are affecting our everyday life. So you are a servant sweeping the steps, the crowd pushes by you as they seek an audience with the Roman governor. You listen as they are screaming about a man…wait you have heard about that guy. Jesus he healed the servant of the centurion.
I start here because this story runs deeper than just a dispute within the Hebrew faith, it connects to the whole world. Jesus was loved by the Jews, Greeks, and even Romans.
This is where the story gets interesting. Rome, the government, could careless about Jesus. Do not get me wrong, they knew about him, they probably had spies infiltrating his followers, but he was not a concern of theirs. They are only concerned if there is a threat to the status qua.
This is really interesting if you think about it. The trial was over before it began. One question was asked and the trial was over. Jesus was not a concern of Rome. Jesus could have said anything really, the governor already knew that the crowd was presenting false charges. So when he saw them approaching the court he had probably already gave the order to the floggers to start preparing for a beating. Blood would flow but death in the eyes of Rome was not needed.
Have you ever really thought about the story in that way. Pilate figured this was an open shut case, but the people whose power was threatened by Jesus were persistent. Pilate then realized that the mob was a bigger threat. Jesus is from Herod’s jurisdiction. Send the mob there. Pilate did not get to where he was by being politically ignorant. The best thing for him was to get this out of Jerusalem, because no political leader wants a riot in his town.
Herod the small town governor gets excited. It is not because he feels threatened, but he was going to get a show from the miracle man. Again Herod already knew that politically the threat was not from Jesus but the mob, he gave a mock trial hoping for a show. He too sent Jesus back and then the two governors became friends, meaning they cut a deal.
Where is the focus? As a person without power, as a servant in the court, or maybe a merchant on the street these event are just another story of the ruling class fighting. But this time they are fighting over the guy that gave sight to the blind guy that was on the corner. They are fighting over the rabbi that actually took time to answer the question you asked when you joined the others on the hill side. Why are they accusing him? Why? Why were the religious leaders so upset when the governors showed little concern?
There is and always will be a place for religion on society. The religious aspects of society are the most intimate of communities. The religious communities can unite for a cause and they can change the direction of the culture. Freedom of religion is to be a voice of conscience to the society, they question the intentions of the government and they give a voice to the least of the community. The religious mediate between the extremes.
This is when religion is good. But because religion is so intimate with the communities they can be used to advance agendas. Religion has been infiltrated throughout history to gain support from causes. The crusades are probably one of the darkest aspects of the Christian Church. Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the largest supporters of the military actions in the middle east was also a monk that wrote great essays on love. Bernard loved God and mankind yet somehow someone convinced him that a holy war was necessary. The words of a leader prompted people to love also prompted them to to hate. I love Bernard. I personally believe that he was a great leader in the church, but religious leaders can get caught in things. At times those things can detract from the original message.
I mention this because it is similar. The religious leaders were threatened. They reacted. The people stopped listening to them. The people were not seeking their rabbis for extended education. Someone was pointing out where they failed. They several options available. They could have examined their actions or they could stand firm in there traditions. These are both options used successfully by faith organizations. There is a third option also, silence the opposition.
Unfortunately silence is all too often the option taken. Power is threatened or weakness is exposed, and the prophet is discredited or sent away. If they cannot be discredited then the stakes are raised. Death is the final step.
Jesus came to the world to bring the light of God to mankind. He came to bring the kingdom of God. This threatens nations and religions if they are devoted to power only. People give power to mankind and if someone changes the views of people power is transferred to others. Light exposes what was once hidden in darkness. And power seekers often want their agendas left hidden. So what was exposed by Jesus that threatened the people of power? This is where it is time to imagine again…who or what are you thinking about when you read this passage?
The crowd yelled crucify him in Pilate’s courts not because of nationalism, but because Jesus exposed something about them that they did not want too or could not deal with. They were losing their power and if they lost control then they would loss everything they worked so hard to gain.
Jesus exposes the hidden things of the power seekers. He exposes the injustice of those in control. And every day since that day of ancient times, we each have yelled with everyone else crucify him. We yell it when we let political agendas usurp our testimonies of faith. We scream it at the top of our lungs when we let our communities fall into darkness because we fail to help. We each yell crucify him when we put ourselves before our community.
Is he the king? The only question asked by the infamous Pilate…Jesus’ answer to him, “You say so.”
Is he king or should we just crucify him again.
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