Today is Good Friday. Like every year I always expect some folks to point out that Easter is actually a pagan holiday hijacked and Christianized, it’s kinda exactly like Christmas in that regard. I am fully aware that Easter wasn’t originally anything to do with Christianity and I am aware that folks prefer to call it Passover weekend etc etc. However knowing all of this does not mean I can’t use this day to remember the day Jesus died. Having dealt with that, I wanna look at something that I noticed when examining the events as laid out in the gospels that led up to his dying on the cross, it might be things you’ve not noticed before.
One of the things that struck me one time is how much the religious rulers of the day perceived Jesus as a threat. This is someone who never harmed anyone but only did good. He only spoke the truth and showed compassion to those who were more or less at the bottom of society. He taught with power and authority unlike the scribes. I think the main thing is he exposed the religious rulers of that day as people who didn’t really care about the people or even God’s law. They seemed to be more about maintaining their power over the people and their privilege as people with status in Israel that was occupied by the Romans at the time. Jesus went hard against them for being hypocrites. In fact it’s the main times we see Jesus angry in the gospels. Read the following verses, they’re from John when they began plotting Christ’s death:
“What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”
And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” (John 11:47-50)
These were words uttered in a meeting of the Pharisees after Jesus had performed the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. It’s like Christ had become such a threat to them that they decided to find a way to put him to death.
You see it’s hard for us to understand how things were at that time but you have to remember that Israel was under the rule of the Romans and for Israel that was almost like them being a defeated people considering the fact that they have had an amazing history with the reign of Kings like David and Solomon as high points. So when their prophets had prophesied that a Messiah would come, what they expected was a military type King like David who would come and deliver Israel from the Roman rule. They pinned all their hopes on this one who would emerge and restore Israel to its former glory.
So Jesus bursts on to the scene preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, undermining the religious rulers who were weak and corrupt and allowed a little power by the Romans who firmly had Israel under control. They were scared that because of Jesus the “Romans would come and take their place and nation” meaning they would no more be the ruling elite over the people. Of course felt they had to silence and put Jesus to death so that it would be “business as usual”
Ok this next verse is one that when I read it, I was like wow I have never seen this before but peep this, this was after Jesus had faced Pontus Pilate and he turned it over to the people to decide if they wanted Barabbas to be released or Jesus
‘Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion. Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them. but Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy’. (Mark 15:6 – 10)
I had never noticed the line about envy before. WOW! So the religious rulers envied Jesus because of who deep down they knew he was and what he was able to do. It kind of reminds me of how Joseph’s brothers envied him for being the favoured son of Jacob and the one who dreamed dreams of being the Ruler over his brothers.
Ok this last bit is something to do with “groupthink” its kind of the “message” that a certain Erykah Badu was trying to pass across in her “window seat” video. If you don’t know what “groupthink” is, the following verses describe EXACTLY what it is.
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them. Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?”
So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!”
Then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?”
But they cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!” So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified. (Mark 15:11-15)
Groupthink is simply mob action with no thinking, the same kind of mob action that can have over twenty 15 year olds murder another 15 year old in broad daylight during rush hour in one of the most crowded stations in London (Victoria) It’s when your conform without any question and it is what gives people like false religious leaders their power. It is what fattens their pockets at the expense of the flock who are simply sheeple. It is what gives cults their power; it is what enables folks to follow something blindly without finding out if what they are following is true and worth following.
These were just a few things that popped out to me about the death of Jesus. Thankfully we can call it a “good” Friday, only because “what was intended for evil, God worked for good” for we believe that in that death is our redemption and because resurrection occurred 3 days later, such an evil thing worked for our benefit. It is the ultimate display of God’s love and grace towards mankind, it is because of this sacrifice we can find forgiveness and hope beyond the grave.
Erykah Badu says the following words in her “window seat” video but why oh why when I read them do I think of Jesus and how he was crucified so much? I am not saying she was saying them about Christ or anything like that but when I read them, it makes me remember him! Why? You tell me:
"They who play it safe are quick to assassinate what they do not understand. They move in packs, ingesting more and more fear with every act of hate on one another. They feel most comfortable in groups. Less guilt to swallow. They are us. This is what we have become. Afraid to respect an individual. A single person or event or circumstance can move one to change, to love ourselves, to evolve."