Reflections on Holy Week – Our Place
John 11:45-53; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
… it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.
I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a sermon or teaching that talks about one of the rational explanations for the Jewish authorities to want to kill Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, they were wrong. Misguided. Blind. But these were not unreasonable men. We don’t have many parallels to thousands of years of tradition or hundreds of years for that matter. It’s hard for us to translate why these men would want so badly to kill Jesus – why they wanted Him silenced before He could do anymore damage. I’ve never heard anyone sympathize with them. I’ve rarely heard anyone admit that if we were in their shoes, we would have done the exact same thing.
We want to believe that we don’t have it in us. We want to believe that we don’t think like they do. How many of us would allow one polarizing figure to die in order to save a nation? How many of us would be willing to give that person over to the governing authorities in order to prevent the destruction of our way of life? Romans didn’t tend to enjoy those who threatened their control. Hints of rebellion have rarely gone over well with those in power. Christ was to be the King of the Jews. The people greeted Him with loud shouts, songs, and merriment – parading Him down the streets of their largest city at their busiest season screaming “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:13) Anybody in their right mind would have tried to quiet the crowd.
The crowds that followed Him would have been the greatest encouragement for the Jewish leaders to kill Jesus. Crowds are fickle, impulsive, unreasonable. History has shown us this. Professional sports is modern evidence of this. Their carelessness at the Triumphal Entry almost forced the Jewish leaders hand. The risk was too great. Their nation was at stake. Their lives were at stake, and potentially the lives of hundreds of thousands gathered in that one city for the Passover. We would have done the same. We would have reasonably, carefully calculated what had to be done. And like them, we would have had no problem breaking a few minor scheduling or accuracy laws to accomplish the safety of our families, children, and lives.
Sooo happy Easter… Why is this important? Why focus on the reasonableness of the Jewish leaders? It’s important that we move beyond the hype of Easter. We tend to enjoy a bit of looking down our noses at the Jewish leaders, the fickle crowd, and Jesus disciples during this week. We tend to put on our capes and reread the accounts and believe we would have stood with Him and died with Him. We tend to be grateful for Christ’s suffering for us innocent bystanders who would have never done those things to Him if we were there. I want to start this Holy Week in the right place. Christ entered Jerusalem knowing the cross awaited Him. Knowing the cup was ready to be served. Knowing my voice would be in the crowd at Pilate’s inquiry. Knowing my sin demanded blood. The cross is foolishness to those who believe they have it all figured out. It’s foolishness to those who have something to lose. It’s foolishness to those who believe they wouldn’t have turned on Him. Thank you for the cross, Lord. Thank you for the blood-stained, wrath-absorbing cross. Forgive me for putting you there. I love y’all more than you know. Grace and peace,