Saturday, April 23, 2011

Who do you relate to in the Easter story?

Each person in the story reacts to the story in a different way and we often relate to one or more of these people and the way they respond to the circumstances they faced 2000 years ago. The cast is large and the responses are varied.

The disciples as usual don’t represent a single unified front to the situation. Nine of them when push came to shove simply melted away in fear and concern for themselves rather for their teacher and his teachings.

The youngest disciple had connections and was able to get into the court to follow the events as they unfolded. Ultimately he was there at the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ; the only one of his 12 apostles who remained true to the end of his master’s earthly life.

The leader of the disciples tried to defend Jesus but had poor defensive skills and ended up denying out of fear for his own life, not just once but three times before he realized what he had done and fled in disgrace

One chose to betray his leader. Perhaps he became disillusioned by the Jesus because he expected a different kind of leader then Jesus ended up being. Many people were looking for someone who would answer all of their political problems and Jesus didn’t fit into any know political party of his time. Some looked of a military leader who would solve their problems by force but Jesus spoke and taught spiritual peace. Perhaps Judas was just an opportunist and got a better offer from the priests.

The priests were enemies of Jesus for he threatened not only their political power but just as important they spiritual authority. While these alone were reason enough to cause their hatred of Jesus it was the fact that he challenged their very core religious beliefs and understanding of who they were (the chosen people of God) pushed them over the edge.

Mayhap it is the crowd who you relate to. Crowds are unique and can take on characteristics all their own. People in a crowd will do and say things that they will never dream of doing individually. It has been pointed out that the crowd in Jerusalem was rather fickle; first by trying to declare him King and a week later being swayed to demand his death by crucifixion. They accept the guilt of innocent blood not only on themselves but also their descendants.

For political expediency Pilate tries to placate the popular political agenda. And he believes that he can wash his hands of innocent blood, as though by wishing it so he can free himself of his responsibility and guilt.

Now the Roman soldiers were considered the best soldiers in the world. They also were skilled practitioners of torture. For them crucifixion was a normal punishment for anyone who rebelled against Rome. As for the beating of Jesus, well first century punishments were brutal. After all these men were “just obeying orders” even if it was an unfair verdict and false justice.

The Centurion was a man who followed his orders and yet in the end recognized who Jesus was and proclaimed him the Son of God.

The thieves on the cross also reacted to Jesus that day. One thief rejected him and cursed him while on the cross. The other recognized who Jesus was and chose to believe in him and his kingdom. That very day the repentant thief experienced the Kingdom in the presence of the King.

The women at the cross followed their King all the way to his death. Faithful from the start until the end these women not only believed in Jesus and his message they supported this itinerant teacher regardless of his popularity and poverty.

A final person in this drama is that of Jesus, himself. He experienced betrayal at the hand of a close friend, forsaken by his closest friends. He didn’t like his immediate future but chose to be obedient even though it meant separation from His Father, death. He chose to die for your sins, failures and mistakes as well as mine even when we were enemies in rebellion to him and His Father. He chose to express His love in the most incredible way by dying in our stead.

So who are you like? What person best portrays your personal response to Jesus this Easter? Unfortunately I find that at times I find a mixture of all of these characters in my response to Jesus and his death.

But thank God, He raised Jesus on the third day! And by trusting in him and his finished work we are raised with him!

He is risen – He is risen indeed!

Happy Easter!

Pastor Val

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