Who Was this Jesus? John 18:1 - 19:37 Good Friday, April 22, 2011 St. Alban’s, Hickory, NC
Our Lenten journey, our Holy Week journey is almost over. This week juxtaposes the
extremes of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the human reaction to it: waving of palms and welcome cries of Hosanna, followed by cries to crucify him and rejection and denial, contrasted with Jesus’ steadily, purposefully moving toward the cross, his obedience to God and through God’s love for humanity, and ends with Jesus’ lifeless body placed in the tomb.
How much ink, paint, marble, and glass has been used to attempt to express a theme, a
mood, or a presentation of what it all means? We keep the memory alive each time we gather for the Eucharist. We intensify the meaning during Holy Week, especially as we come face to face with the passion of Good Friday. Each conversation Jesus has, each action of his, each event of denial or injury, speaks the same reality. The apostles, the Jewish leaders, the soldiers all did not understand who he was for them. They never knew during these events what he was doing for them. The apostles slept while he prayed his obedient surrender. They fled while he remained faithful.
While our journey of getting to know Jesus, understanding who Jesus is is a life-long
process, beginning with our birth, accelerating at our baptism and confirmation, sometimes becoming more clarified through study or at moments of enlightened awareness brought on by the Holy Spirit, we still continue to blend the Jesus who extends and reveals himself to us with the Jesus we think we want, a predictable Jesus.
That’s one of the problems with Jesus then and with Jesus now: his unpredictability. Each year, during Holy Week, the Church rituals and liturgy invite us to consider who
is the Jesus I was expecting and who is the Jesus who reveals himself to me. We began Holy Week on Palm Sunday witnessing a crowd as they welcomed their predictable messiah into Jerusalem. We place ourselves among those waving palm branches crying “Hosanna!”
Who were you in that crowd? What kind of Jesus were you looking for?: a Pharisee
expecting a keep-the-law Jesus, a do-it-by-the book Jesus so that all gray is eliminated and we are left with only black and white decisions? A priest or temple leader expecting an authoritarian Jesus who would protect the status quo? A zealot who expected a take-up-your-sword Jesus who supported all our beliefs and would lead us to destroy anyone who disagrees with us? A disciple expecting a victorious Jesus who would repay our following him with positions of honor?
What kind of Jesus are you looking for? A plastic Jesus whom we can keep on a shelf
as a sign of our faithfulness but expects nothing from us? A prozac Jesus who keeps us happy, relaxed, and secure? A Mr. Rogers Jesus who is kind and gentle and never threatening? A teddy bear Jesus who, when we’re down or frightened, we can hold and feel safe and comforted but whom we otherwise leave in the toy box? A always-right-savior Jesus whom we can use to justify our individual and corporate actions to harm others we don’t like.
What kind of Jesus did we get? We get a Jesus who rode into Jerusalem to become its
messiah. He came not at the head of a conquering army but riding on a donkey. He came not to play God but to empty himself and take the form of a slave. He revealed his love by washing feet. He prayed for his plight to pass him by, but he remained faithful, even as his closest supporters betrayed, denied and rejected him. In the end he cries out, “Why have you forsaken me?”
Even Jesus felt abandonment by the one he loved most. What is he telling us by
But here is the comfort for us in it all. Despite all the art and words, we still do not
fully comprehend the embrace. We can catch fleeting emotions and ideas of who Jesus is and what his death means, but we have heard it all so often that the embrace can seem more like a handshake or simple nod. There is still some sleeping going on within us as we consider being loved so dearly. There is always the possibility and reality of our denials of his invitations to follow him.
Who stayed and who didn’t stay with Jesus through his passion? Which way would
we have gone? What happens to us when fear becomes too strong? We could just rest in the soft comfort of guilt and embarrassing shame; but that is too easy and too much what this world invites us to do.
What will it take to make us understand the meaning of the cross, how Jesus made
peace possible by his own suffering and dying? We keep thinking that we will bring peace by killing others in war; Jesus showed us that we bring peace by dying for others. What do we do then; with what do we pray during these holy days of our eternal Passover?
To answer such questions, the Church offers us Holy Week. Therefore, we come to
the purpose of remembering Holy Week, of remembering Good Friday. We can more simply and personally be there and let it all be done onto each one of us again for the first time. There is no resurrection today. We go home with a dead Jesus in the tomb. We can anticipate the Resurrection, and that anticipation gives us a sense of promise, but it also obscures who Jesus was and is for us. Between now and Easter morning, allow the Holy Spirit to contrast for you the Jesus you expect and the Jesus you encounter today and throughout Holy Week. Perhaps then, once again for the first time, began to understand the Resurrection.
We do not have the openness to take it all in at once, but we can allow some part,
some word or action to embrace us this year. We can pray with the words which Jesus must have spoken, “Forgive them, for they know not who I am nor what I am doing.”
CH S343 – Honors Organic Chemistry Laboratory Introduction The honors organic chemistry laboratory and spectroscopy course, CH S343, is well suited for incorporation in to this semester’s theme of “Good Behavior/Bad Behavior.” In this course, we study methods for synthesizing small organic molecules, as well as methods for interpreting structures using spectroscopic methods. M
Young NIS Scientist Fellowships Programme 2002 First Name: Patronic Name: Family Name: Organisation: Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas (IBSS), National Academy of Sciencies of Ukraine (NASU), 2, Nakhimov ave., Sevastopol 99011, Scientific Field & Expertise (half a page maximum) In broad terms, I specialise in marine microbial ecology. A crucial realisation fo