A Necessary Series of Events

Life Notes—March 11, 2010 

“Pilate asked them, ’Why, what evil has he done?’ But they cried all the more, ‘Crucify him!’  So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.”  Mark 15: 14-15 

The temple leadership, the Sanhedrin, held their mock trial in the middle of the night, convicting Jesus of blasphemy and deserving of death.  He was handed over to Pilate, the Roman governor, to be put to death.  Pilate had a custom of releasing one prisoner during the Passover festival and offered Jesus to the crowd.  But the crowd cried out for the release of Barabbas, a murdering rebel, and for the crucifixion of Jesus. 

Isn’t this an odd occurrence?  Surely at least part of the crowd was made up of people who had heard Jesus teach, been healed by him, been counted among his followers just hours before.  Why would they now cry for the release of Barabbas and the death of Jesus?  Was the crowd hoping Barabbas would rejoin the insurrection he had been a part of?  Were they such devout Jews that when the Sanhedrin pronounced him deserving of death, they accepted that sentence?  It just seems like a strange and rapid turn of events. 

And yet, what if Jesus had been released and Barabbas crucified?  What if Jesus didn’t suffer and die on the cross for the sins of the world?  Surely the death of Barabbas could not have brought about our salvation.  Instead of Black Friday where Jesus is led to Golgotha, Jesus might have ridden quietly out of Jerusalem, back into the hills and continued his ministry to a ripe old age and died of natural causes.  Had Jesus walked away that day, there would be no resurrection, no Easter, no assurance that we, too, will one day die to this life, only to be reborn into another. 

We tend to vilify Judas, Pilate and the crowd.  Ditto for Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, and I’ve always accepted that vilification to be justified.  But what if one of them hadn’t followed through on their evil deed?  What if Judas kissed Simon instead of Jesus?  While we despise the nasty way in which Jesus spent his final hours, we sometimes forget that very suffering was a necessary, if sometimes difficult-to-understand step in our salvation.  And a number of people were required to bring that suffering about, right up to and including us… 

This is the fourth Sunday of Lent.  Tom’s sermon title is “A Good Look at Ourselves,” drawn from the scripture found in Mark 15: 1-15.  Heather Clinger and Nolan Frank will lead the Life music this Sunday at 10:45 in Brady Hall as I will be out of town.  Traditional worship in the sanctuary is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Contemporary worship at the west campus at 9:30. 

Come home to worship this Sunday.  Remember and reflect on Jesus’ final hours.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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