Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday Thoughts

More talk. More words. Words that burn. Crucify him! Words that seer. Crucify him! Words that incite. Crucify him! Other words just as cruel inscribed in four languages on a plaque and nailed above the figure hung on public display on the center cross. Labeling. Naming. Accusing. Deriding. Displaying the truth. Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.

Pilate wrote those words to cruelly mock and inflame the people he governed. Pilate hated the Jewish people. Pilate hated everything about them. Pilate hated their religious sensibilities. Pilate hated being in this backwater posting. He took every opportunity to goad them, to incite them, to alienate them.

Pilate didn't believe Jesus was any sort of a King, anymore than he believed him to be the incarnation of the Roman God, Mars. Jesus was just some poor, deluded, religious sot run afouls of the Jewish religious establishment. He was content to have Jesus flogged, just for the sport of it, and then to release him. But there was a scene, a near riot. He couldn't have that. No Pilate couldn't have that at all. He would never get back in Rome's good graces if a riot ensued.

Crucify him! Crucify him! FINE! What's another dead Jew to me? Pilate finally conceded. But not without getting in one last parting shot. He would have the last word on the matter, so he thought. He would poke them but good, and what I have written, I have written. Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.

Pilate got the reaction he was looking for. As soon as they read it, the Jewish leaders stormed his headquarters. "Do not write 'King of the Jews'," they croaked, "but, 'this man said, 'I am King of the Jews.''" What I have written, I have written. Pilate could hardly hold back the laughter as he turned on his heals and walked away from them, leaving them standing there gaping and arguing with the back of his cape. Giggling and giddy he strode away, wishing he could capture the look on their exasperated faces. Score one for old Pilate.

"Fat lot those hypocritical imbeciles care," Pilate thought. He had delighted in watching them fall all over themselves declaring their undying loyalty to the Emperor. "We have no King but the Emperor," quite insistently, too. He almost believed them. But then what of this God of theirs, who demands their sole loyalty, their life, their all. What of him? I thought God was your King. I don't understand you. I don't care to. Just let me done with you and your infernal God and your stupid, unending religious quarreling. Get me out of here with some shred of my sanity still intact. You miserable lot of religious misfits. What I have written, I have written. Deal with it!
Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.

Yes, what Pilate had written, he had written. What he had intended as a cruel joke, as a cruel goad to poke at the people under his governance, he wrote in ignorance. And in ignorance he wrote the truth. Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. INRI. Those initials are still written today. Inscribed deeply into the hearts and minds of those who have come to know the truth, the beauty, the hope of those words: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.

In his light, we see light.
In his love, we find peace.
In his life, we find hope.
In his death, we have life.

Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. INRI. No truer word have ever been written. Amen.

Good Friday 2010.

I am the Unlikely Pastor. Welcome to my world.

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