Good Friday

10 04 2009

There are four more dead bodies in Jerusalem tonight.
It has been a most terrible of days. I really don’t want to write this, and yet something in me insists I confess it and record it. The world has changed. It will never be the same again. We have failed him and it has all gone wrong.

There is one side of me that wishes I had never met him; these past three years have been too wonderful. If I told you some of the things we’ve witnessed Jesus doing, you wouldn’t believe me. I can understand that. When we first started travelling with him, for the first week my mind was struggling with what we were seeing. My eyes saw it but my mind screamed, “This can’t be happening!” When a blind man sees, that is wonderful. When a cripple walks, that is amazing, but when you stand next to a leper with his revolting skin and before your eyes you see the skin changing and becoming perfect again, I tell you, at that point you are struggling. And it was three years like that!

It was also three years in a classroom of life. Day in, day out, we were being challenged as to who we were, about God, about life, with the Master preaching powerfully to the crowds and then quietly explaining to us. It was amazing. I can’t even remember what I used to be like. We are different people today because of him.

But then we came to Jerusalem for the Passover. We’d been before but this time it was different. It seemed like the Master was completely unafraid of the religious authorities and taught and healed right on their doorstep outside the Temple. It did seem provocative, but when you’ve been with a man for three years who is so totally in control of life itself, you don’t care. But we should have cared.

We’ve hardly slept these past forty eight hours. Last night was terrible, but not so bad as today. We’d had the Passover meal and the Master had suggested that we go over to Gethsemane to pray together. It was while we were there that a band of soldiers, led by Judas of all people, came and arrested him. We couldn’t believe it. Peter lashed out but the Master stopped him and gave himself to the soldiers. Yes, I think that is the right way to describe what happened – he gave himself to them. If he hadn’t wanted to go, I’m sure he needn’t have gone.

They took him to Caiaphas’ palace and some of us hung around in the shadows outside waiting for his release. Surely he wouldn’t let them hold him. The hours passed and eventually at daylight an armed procession came out and headed for Pilate’s residence. We followed at a distance. There was much arguing with Pilate but eventually he gave way to their demands. They were going to crucify him! They wanted him executed and that weak minded, half witted governor just washed his hands of the whole thing and said go and do it. So the soldiers took him and thrashed him. By the time they finished with him he could hardly stand. Then they took him outside the city to where there execute criminals and alongside two criminals they nailed him to a cross.

I’m sorry, I’m so sickened by it that I can’t describe it to you – perhaps later. He hung there for hours between the two thieves, in agony with life ebbing away. Then eventually, about the middle of the afternoon, it was like he had had enough and cried out, “It is finished!” and then he just hung there – he had gone. He was dead. Like everything else, it seemed like he was in total control. Then they took down the bodies – three dead bodies. I said four? Yes, that’s right; we’ve just heard that Judas has killed himself. He obviously couldn’t live with the awfulness of what he had done, betraying the master into their hands last night.

I’m sorry if I’m sounding somewhat hard and cold as I’m telling you all this but I think I’m probably in a state of shock; we all are. It’s crazy! It’s stark, staring mad! If you’d seen and heard what we’ve seen and heard for these last three years, you would know that this was the most wonderful person who has ever walked on this earth! He was utterly good! There is no way that he deserved to die; this was a complete travesty of justice – and we just let it happen! There’s a part of me that wants to follow Judas’ example. The religious authorities demanded it, our civic leaders went along with it, the crowd cried for it and the Romans did it – and we did nothing! There’s not an innocent person in this city tonight.

Tonight we are condemned. We followed him, our lives were transformed by him, many of us were healed by him, and we experienced life as never before. Yet the authorities were challenged by him and afraid of him and so arrested him, tried him, mocked him, scourged him, crucified him and killed him – and we did nothing! At no point did we intervene. We were too scared for our own lives, and the light that shone has gone out. What was odd, was that he didn’t intervene and stop it at any point, for I’m sure he could have done! It is indeed a dark night; it was a dark day. I’m sorry, I can’t say anything more.

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