This is Thursday of Holy Week. The reading is Matthew 27:1-32, Jesus before Pilate. (If you want to listen, scroll to the bottom of that page for the audio links.)
This entry is also heart prep for our Maundy Thursday Service (7:00 p.m. tonight)!
Wright points out that Matthew does not place the blame for Jesus’ death on any one person, not even Judas, but on everyone who participated in the tragedy (except Pilate’s wife and Simon of Cyrene). The disciples by their desertion and denial contributed, the chief priests and scribes who condemned him and mocked him, Pilate who washed his hands of him, the crowds who called for his death, the soldiers who mocked and beat and scourged him, the passers-by who jeered and taunted him, all played their part. And the everyone includes us, ‘for it was our sins he bore.’
Wright says: “We may begin by watching from the sidelines, but the story is designed to draw us in. We find ourselves there in the crowd, shouting like football supporters for this man rather than the notorious Barabbas (the first person in history, but by no means the last, to discover that Jesus was dying in his place). We feel the surge of emotion, of anger that our national hopes have been trampled on by this upstart from Galilee. Or, in the back room of Pilate’s headquarters, we find the soldiers, so long fed up with having to police Jewish uprisings, finally discovering someone on whom they can take out their frustrations. These things happen, we think. This is how people react. And, in a sense, who can blame them? That’s how it is.”
“It is precisely ‘how it is’ that sent Jesus to the cross. Matthew is telling us, in these vivid and shocking human scenes, what Jesus’ death is all about. There is a dark twist in ‘the way things are’. Jesus came to enter that darkness, to have his own body twisted in pain on the cross, so that the world could be straightened out, so that light could dawn at last.”
Arise My Soul Arise (Twila Paris) (Audio track)