An Accusation We Must Passionately Own

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In Matthew’s account of the Passion we read this Sunday (Mt 26:14—27:66), Jesus says to the people who would help him fulfill his mission to die for humanity’s life, in effect, “YOU have made it so.” Let’s count the ways:

#1: Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”

#2: Then the high priest said to him,
“I order you to tell us under oath before the living God
whether you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“You have said so.

#3: Now Jesus stood before the governor, and he questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus said, “You say so.”

Finally, all of humanity speaks as one as the cause of Christ’s Passion. We, the congregation, play the part of the crowd calling for the death Jesus came here to give them.  

The governor said to them in reply, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They answered, “Barabbas!” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” But he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” They only shouted the louder, “Let him be crucified!”

In saying so, the crowd makes it so. Then when Pilate washes his hands of the matter and puts it on them, they—and we—again speak as one:

And the whole people said in reply, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”

As much as succeeding generations who’ve fallen away from faith try washing their hands of Jesus, we in this current age are as much a part of the fulfillment of Jesus’s mission to bring humanity back to life as were–unwittingly–Judas, the high priest, the governor AND the crowd in Sunday’s reading of The Passion. But rather than screaming for crucifixion, we’re aching for resurrection. Even though we as a church congregation are just anonymous faces in a crowd as we recall those passionate moments, Jesus’s death is as personal for each one of us as it was for those in that crowd we quote with one voice.  But as our lips form the words “crucify him,” our hearts cry out “save us!”

So when those modern-day hold-outs among us in this secular world—the ones who’ve washed their hands of Jesus—accuse us modern-day disciples of being in his company, let’s passionately announce on this Passion Sunday, “IT IS SO!”

–Tom Andel

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