Sunday, March 27, 2016

An Easter Story 2016

Last year I wrote An Easter Story. This year, I write again for Easter. It is an important day for Christians - actually, THE most important day. Right? To have life after death, there must be death. For Jesus, human death resulted from secular government order, a death sentence. It matters not if a reader of the canonical gospels believes what is written there is inerrant, allegorical, or fictional. They each tell of a capital trial and death penalty.

The version from Mark, Chapter 15, verses 1-15 (New International Version):
1. Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. 2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied. 3 The chief priests accused him of many things.  4  So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.” 5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. 6  Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. 9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. 12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. 13 “Crucify him!” they shouted. 14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
According to John Mark, the government makes only a sedition accusation: "Are you King of the Jews?" In response, Jesus parrots it back using the only four words he speaks in his trial, "You have said so." Not exactly a confession. In fact, Jesus remains mute to a bevy of non-secular accusation, despite entreaties by the government to respond, "Aren't you going to answer? See how many things [religious authority] are accusing you of."

Yet there is the public pressure on the government for the death penalty. In the teeth of attempted government clemency, public pressure for the death penalty only becomes greater. Ironically, this public outcry for a death sentence has been the rationalization for two millennia of religious persecution and even more death.

Life after death. Mercy. Redemption no matter how far or unfair the fall.

Happy Easter.

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