Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Two things kind of ran through my head after our Good Friday service in a different way than they ever did.

1. I have always been able to have a sense in my heart of how the crowd got “wound up” to do Jesus in, but I have never really had a connection to “the aftermath” of this until tonight.

I understand mob mentality pretty well, and I think the angry parts of me connect with it and understand how things can carry you to a place that was a terrible mistake and you don’t know it till you’re there and it’s obvious you stepped over the line. Think about this a little. It’s Passover. EVERYONE is in town. It’s crowded. The public mindset is very tolerant of blood sport—the Romans have seen to that, through the Roman forms of entertainment mixed with the fact life was cheap back then. Imagine that night/early morning.

“Hey, didja hear? They’re trying that Nazarene prophet?”

“No kiddin'? What’d he do?”

“I dunno. Who cares? Let’s go to town and see what’s going on!”

Really, it’s great local drama. The priests are pissed, and they want to curry favor with Rome anyway. Herod and Pilate are like, “I can’t see where this guy has done anything wrong in a public safety sense. I don’t see where he’s run afoul of the kingdom or Rome.” But the crowd is getting bigger in the streets and some toadies of the priests are starting to yell for Christ’s head. Pilate is going, “How ‘bout I just give him a nice public flogging? Wouldn’t that be enough for you?” Then some of the crowd starts yelling “Free Barabbas!” and the rest of the crowd picks up on it, like a cheer in a football stadium. Next thing you know, they’re hauling Jesus up the hill to be crucified.

It is still great sport at this point. It’s still local entertainment, like a good hanging in the Old West, until about halfway through the crucifixion itself. This is the part I never really picked up on until now. At some point, you get the sense the crowd’s mood is starting to shift. They are thinking, “What’s up? Wait a minute! This guy is probably innocent. Look at him—he’s not even protesting his innocence, he’s just hanging there like a trussed-up lamb, dying. Uh-oh. What have we just been a party to?” It didn’t hurt that there was a solar eclipse, either. Now folks are thinking, “Uh-oh! God's upset with us now because the sun is darkening!” At this point, near the end, people had to be heading for home as fast as they could. The Roman soldiers are thinking, “I sure hope this is over soon b/c let’s get the hell out of Dodge as soon as this is over.”

Meanwhile, as Jesus died, the disciples and the women have to be feeling like they’re stuck watching a car wreck two cars in front about to happen. As Christ was being mocked and tormented and he WASN’T saving himself, they have to be thinking, “Well, maybe they’re right. If he really is the Messiah, how come he’s not doing squat to save himself? C’mon, Jesus, break free from that cross and go kick these people’s butts!” As it becomes apparent that’s not going to happen, it had to turn to despair for them. “All this time I’ve spent with this guy is a total waste. He’s not the Messiah. He’s just some guy...and I’m a fool. I was a damned fool for dropping everything and running around with this guy.” As Christ’s life ebbed, their feelings of being misguided, used, deluded had to grow. I have never really picked up on that part or identified it or connected with it until now...that sense of dread, that feeling of being anchorless, fear that they’d be identified as “that dude’s friends” while at the same time watching him die and feeling empathy for their friend and teacher, yet simultaneously trying to push down the growing notion in their heart that this was all a big sham and they’d been had.

As the hill clears of people, it’s just a few soldiers, a little knot of the disheartened faithful, and three dead guys hanging on crosses.

For some reason this year, I connected in a new way with what a lonely, disheartening thing that had to be for his people. I am feeling that loneliness, confusion, even the sense that his followers felt betrayed themselves, because Jesus DIDN’T rise up and smite everyone like the Old Testament's warrior heroes. He just died, silently, like a whipped dog. It was just not how they would have expected it. Mary would have felt the pain of losing her son but having NO CLUE what all the rest of that meant. She had to have known her son was “special” somehow. But what happened would not have made sense in the traditional sense of what she knew about her religion.

I connected with that sense of connection to this confusion, loneliness, and betrayal, and I have a feeling it is part of what I am going to have to carry in my head until Easter and figure out what to do with it then. This is something new for me to deal with. Maybe I have had it before but just pushed it aside—I don’t know.

2. I think because of #1, I have finally, after 40 years, understand what the phrase “dead to our sins” really means. I have never really understood what that means. I had this vague notion that it was being separated from God but more like in a “You’ve been bad and you’re gonna die,” way. Can’t accept the fundie notion that it means you’re consigned to Hell unless you jump through the right magic hoops. But the phrase never connected to me quite solidly.

“Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Well, think about that crowd as they are “stepping over the line” and the people mocking Christ. They are so caught up in the moment of what is happening, so busy going with the flow of it, they don’t even realize what happened until it’s a done deal, and they go, “Ooops. Maybe we screwed up here.” Until that moment, they were truly “dead to their sins”. They simply didn’t exist! It is only when we RECOGNIZE the sin that the pain starts, and then sometimes that is horrible pain, not just from the deed itself, but from what we allowed to happen from the deed, and from the sudden realization we’re sitting across a chasm from God because of it—a chasm we dug by hand.

"Dead to our sins" simply means not even acknowledging their existence. Wow, how many of our transgressions are we actually without knowledge? That's a sobering thought.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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