Well it is the day before Good Friday and almost the end of Holy Week.
I won’t bore you all with the details about what Easter means, as you probably don’t care. So I shall not attempt to preach to you all. But if I may take a few minutes of your time I shall try to give you another side of Easter. One that most Christians miss, but is, I believe useful to all.
Thursday evening some churches have a quiet service, which very few people attend. The theme of the service is to reflect on the life of Jesus, mainly the last three years of his life. At the end of the service the alter is stripped bare of any ornamentation. The attendees of the service hurriedly leave the church, lights are turned out, no one speaks, and we disperse to go separate ways.
Holy week starts on Palm Sunday. This represents the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem. The people cheered him and laid down palm leaves before him as he entered riding upon a donkey. This was the end of three years of his ministry to all people who lived in the Holy Land. Jews, Samaritans, Romans and Gentiles.
He preached the good news about God; he healed the sick and lame. But his main message was that all were one under God; that we should all respect each other, treating others as we hope to be treated our selves. A simple message and one that he had preached openly to all.
The main difference this time was that as he entered the Temple, instead of preaching, he took the moneychangers to task, overturning their stalls and driving them out of the Temple for carrying out this trade within the Temple grounds.
The Priests and the Moneychangers had a nice little scam going. The Priests would not accept Roman coins as gifts to the Temple [it was said to be unclean?] The moneychangers would convert this unclean money to Temple coinage, allowing Pilgrims to give donations to the Temple. [no doubt charging a fee for the privilege, and in turn making a payment to the Priests for being allowed to do this]
So that was problem one, next problem was that Jesus in his teaching had stated that a lot of the Priests were hypocrites saying one thing, yet doing another, but expecting common people to do what the Priest said.
That was problem two, next problem, the self-same Temple Priests had a relationship with the Roman Authorities. Were they controlled the Jewish population and the Romans left them alone.
So the fact that Jesus was teaching that all were equal under God, Jew or Gentile this became seen as a threat to their cosy lifestyle. So Jesus had to go, but how? He could not be arrested in the Temple, as he was too popular.
So what to do with him, So they quietly had him arrested [on false charges] in the early hours of the morning, had him taken to the Roman Governor saying that he was preaching sedition against the Roman State and Blasphemy against the Jewish religion.
As for the Governor, his reply was as far as he was concerned Jesus was no threat to the Roman State, had him flogged and released back to the Temple Priests. Who were uncertain of what to do next? This action by the Governor could win more converts to Jesus and threaten the cosy lifestyle of the Priest etc even more.
So they threatened to go above the Governor’s head to the Emperor in Rome if he did not deal with Jesus, as they wanted him to. So the Governor when faced with this threat agreed to have Jesus Crucified, even though he felt that Jesus had committed no crime that deserved this punishment.
To try to wriggle out of carrying out the sentence he had the idea to ask the people who should be released and who should be executed. Barabus; a known murderer and thief or Jesus who had only preached to the people and healed the sick?
The Temple Priests saw through this immediately, and incited the people to call for Barabus’s release and Jesus’s crucifixion.
So to bring it up to date, we have a cosy cartel. The Temple Authorities, the Moneychangers and a Governor who for the sake of a quiet life allowed an injustice to be carried out.
We have a man who shortly before was thought to be the best thing that had ever happened to the people and was extremely popular with them. Exchanged for a man who was known to be a thief and a murderer and was probably feared by them.
The points to think about are; If you upset a cosy cartel, you may come off worst. Weak government is not always a good thing. The guilty do not always get punished and lastly, but most important. Public opinion is very fickle and it is easy to change.
So not a lot as changed over the past 2000 years.