“WERE THE WHOLE REALM OF NATURE MINE?”
[The editorial for April has been written by Rev John Barrett. Thank you John for taking time to help us during our period of interregnum]
In the midst of the trail of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel of John, we hear Pontius Pilate declare – “I find no fault in this man”. Yet still he demands that Jesus be scourged and then orders him to be dragged before the jeering crowd dressed in purple with a crown of thorns.
Pilate sneers: “behold the man!”
Pilate is told that Jesus is seeking to usurp the rule of Caesar with his claim of kingly rule. But the kingdom of Jesus is not of this world. He is not an earthly political leader. His kingdom and his kingly rule represent the rule of God. A kingdom of justice, love and peace. Pilate has scorned Jesus when he said that he bore witness to the truth. With undisguised contempt Pilate retorted, “What is truth”.
The role of judge had demanded that Pilate be impartial. His task was to seek to discern right from wrong. He should not side with one side against the other. Yet Pilate evades his responsibility again and again. He has power to send Jesus to his death and power to set him free. Pilate is not pleased when Jesus informs him that beyond him and the might of Rome there is a greater power!
THIS IS THE WHOLE IRONY OF THE STORY AS TOLD BY THE EVANGELIST. INCREASINGLY IT IS PILATE WHO IS EXPOSED AND ALONE. OUTWARDLY IT IS THE TRAIL OF JESUS YET AS WE OBSERVE THE EVENT WE SEE THAT EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING BUT JESUS IS IN FACT ON TRAIL.
SO WE SEE JESUS CONDEMNED AND PUT TO DEATH BY CRUCIFIXION. THIS CRUEL PUNISHMENT DEFIES OUR IMAGINATION. THE NAILS ARE HAMMERED THROUGH WRISTS AND HEELS WITH FLESH TORN AND THE NAKED BODY WRITHING LIKE A SCARECROW ON THE ROUGH WOOD OF THE CROSS. IT IS DEATH BY SLOW AND PAINFUL TORTURE. A SADISTIC DEATH, WHICH OUR SHELTERED MODERN WESTERN MIND CANNOT BEGIN TO COMPREHEND.
Here the Prince of Glory suffered for the sins of the entire world in every age and in every place. Here the Prince of Peace felt lost even to his own heavenly Father as he cried: “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” The Creator – “The Word made flesh “– takes upon himself the weight of the world’s evil and in love has reached to the heart of human darkness.
IT IS TO ST PAUL THAT WE OWE THE INTERPRETATIONS THAT IN HIS DEATH “JESUS EMPTIED HIMSELF.” ON THE CROSS HE BECAME A SERVANT, A SLAVE AND AN OUTCAST. AT THE CROSS OF JESUS WE SEE THE PLACE WHERE THE LOVE OF GOD REACHED INTO AND BEYOND THE WORST OF HUMAN DARKNESS. HERE IS LOVE TO THE UTTERMOST AND AT THE SAME TIME A JUDGEMENT ON THE SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD.
As we face the Cross of Jesus all the sin and failure of each person is confronted and judged. The truth of such a sublime love probes and searches our minds and our motives. Nothing is or can be hidden. This is the compassion of God, which strikes and in that action begins to heal through love.
The Risen Lord whom we greet with joy on Easter Day bears the signs of his death. He shows the prints of the nails and the scars of the spear. For ours is still a suffering God. A God who lives in the dreadful agony of the pain of the world wherever and whenever there is suffering in our world. Yet we are healed and sent forth to live his life of love and self-giving.
Easter Day is the time of joyful renewal that is reflected in that precious moment every time we receive the Blessed Sacrament. He heals and calls us too into the new creation of love for which he died.
He died that we might be forgiven
He died to make us good!
Revd John Barrett