The day of broken body

Posted: 25 March, 2016 in My stuff
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Christ in Gethsemane - Michael O'BrienIntroduction

Today’s reading begins in the middle of the night and ends early the next evening, a period of no less than eighteen hours, probably more.  It covers the time we call Good Friday.  It begins in a garden and ends in a garden. It begins with prayer and ends with God’s command to rest.

The story is not very descriptive but does have some small details.  It is relatively short and to the point.

There is a lot of dialogue between the characters.

Luke’s Gospel, chapters 22 and 23

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”  He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,  “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.  And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.  “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

 

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?”  And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard,and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs?  Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”

 

Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.  And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.  A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”

But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.

A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”

“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.

About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.  The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”  And he went outside and wept bitterly.

 

The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?”  And they said many other insulting things to him.

 

At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them.  “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me,  and if I asked you, you would not answer.  But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”

He replied, “You say that I am.”

Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate.  And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”

So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”

But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”

On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean.  When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod,who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.  The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him.  Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate.  That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.

Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him.  Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death.  Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”

But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!”  (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)

Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again.  But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”

But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.  So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

 

As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.  A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.  Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.  For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’  Then

“‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”

   and to the hills, “Cover us!”’

For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.  When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.  Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar  and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

 

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon,  for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.”  When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.  But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

 

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man,  who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God.  Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body.  Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.  It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.  Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

 

Reflection

As I read this passage it find it somewhat stark.  It is all very matter of fact.  There seems to be a certain fatalism in it, that it all had to happen just the way it happened.  In a sense there are no surprises.  Apart from Jesus asking his follower/friends to pray at the start there nothing that Jesus asks of me in the passage.

All this is left is to reflect on other people’s actions, other people’s response to Jesus.

Am I like the follower/friends who are clueless what is about to happen?

Am I like Judas who appears to want to force God’s hand?

Am I like the one who wields the sword, wanting to fight force with force because I know no better?

Am I like those who came to arrest Jesus who have no response to Jesus’ words and are just doing their job?

Am I like Peter who denies knowing Jesus three times for fear of what might happen?

Am I like the guards who mocked and beat a vulnerable man ‘just because they could’.

Am I like the council of the elders who use their authority to push their own selfish agenda?

Am I like Herod who has little regard for others and just wants to be entertained?

Am I like Pilate, lacking in principle, who surrenders his conscience to the will of the people?

Am I like Barabbas who has benefited at someone else’s cost?

Am I like Simon from Cyrene who is carrying someone else’s burden because I have been told to?

Am I like the ‘daughters of Jerusalem’ who get caught up in the emotion of the moment but have no commitment?

Am I like the first criminal who continues to be selfish, brutal and aggressive to the end?

Am I like the second criminal who, hanging on his own cross for his own crimes, finds hope in Jesus?

Am I like the Centurion at the cross who recognises Jesus’ righteousness in the midst of a broken world?

Am I like those who gathered to watch the spectacle of death who are remorseful after the event when it is way too late to do anything?

Am I like those who knew Jesus, who stood at a distance, watching?

Am I like Joseph, a member of the ruling council, who fought the decision of the council and followed it though by providing some dignity for Jesus even in death.

Am I like the women who had followed Jesus, who now also planned and prepared to care for his body in death.

Truth be told, I am many of these.

 

Burning Bush

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Comments
  1. Maryanne says:

    Very challenging .. By far your best message to date that I have read … Thought provoking and truth be told I am many of these .. Thank you for sharing.

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