The Passion of Christ and the Church

18 Jun

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for Palm Sunday 17 April 2011

The Passion of Christ and the Church

Jesus came as God’s explicit and exquisite embodiment of love in the Flesh.  Though He was in the form of love He did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited. (Philippians 2:6)  He knew ahead of time that one of His best friends would betray Him.  He knew human nature.  We know the same thing about human nature.  It doesn’t take the mind of God to observe this.  It takes the heart of God to “see” the potential and value of human beings beyond the behavior.

People in all types of situations need a fresh start, including the Church.  We are the Bride of Christ and we have forgotten our value in the eyes of God.  The Church knows she has betrayed that value.  Knowing this doesn’t make us feel any better.  It is the Holy Spirit who is leading the Church through the grieving cycle during this Holy Week, so that we can connect with what Christ experienced in His Passion Week two thousand years ago. 

The grieving cycle starts with a point of trauma.  Our lives are going along well and something happens that is traumatic.  We lose something we value, such as in divorce.  The Church went through a divorce from God.  The Church forgot her first love—and reciprocating God’s love for her.  The Church forgot Whom she most valued and the relationship was broken.  Then denial set in: “Surly not I, Lord.” (Mt 26:22-25)  And Jesus says the same thing to Denial that He said to Judas, “You have said so.”  Denial projects itself.  It says, “This [pain] can’t be happening to me!” 

The next step in the grieving process is anger.  The Church said as Peter and the disciples did, “I will not deny You!” (Mt 26:35)  Righteous anger is empowering.  It’s a reaction to not being able to control our own situation.  It occurs after the breakthrough of denial in admitting that anything is wrong, and it is often accompanied by guilt.  We usually don’t mean to, but we tend to hurt the ones we love the most.  In the Anger phase of the Church’s grieving process, some churches have responded in rage, and some have responded in repression, where the guilt is stuffed.  That makes for sleepiness.  That’s what happened to the disciples, too.  Jesus asked them to pray with Him, and He asked them three times!  Three times He asked simply to have His friends pray with Him before going to face the evil darkness on the cross.  And three times He came back to find them sleepy, drowsy, and heavy.  That’s what happens in repression of intense emotion. 

The next step in the grieving process is bargaining.  Bargaining is trying to find a simple solution to a complex problem.  There are harmful ways of trying to find a solution to this divorce from God.  These ways reflect what the world does: There’s denying the situation exists.  There’s entering into a new relationship with an idol.  There’s substance abuse, such as relying on ritual to fill the emptiness in our “churchy” souls.  There’s eating disorders and trying to consume everything to make ourselves feel better in this emptiness.  And then there are healthy ways of healing the relationship.  There’s confession and acknowledging that God was right.  There’s repentance in agreeing with God and changing our attitudes and behaviors.  There’s forgiving God for allowing this break to happen.  There’s humbly saying, “I’m sorry” to God.  And this is followed up with making amends in the relationship and acknowledging that this relationship is a partnership.

When Jesus came back a third time to the disciples after praying alone, He said, “Get up, let’s get going.  See, my betrayer is at hand.”  Jesus had also said, “The kingdom of God is at hand.”  (Luke 21:31)  We have a choice to face our humanness in relationship to God.  The one set on demanding his own way bullies his way in with an attitude of wielding swords and clubs and bringing a large crowd along for his own defense. (ref Mt 26:47)  The bully greets with a “kiss,” but not all kisses are affectionate.

During times of deception it is natural to sense that it is present, even if we don’t have words to name it.  In this moment, Jesus “surfs” the energy of the Holy Spirit and lets it move on without resistance: “Friend, do what you are here to do.”  The band of soldiers is caught up in the negative energy of deception and one of the soldiers cuts off the ear [cf “hearing”?] of the slave of the high priest.  Our actions and reactions affect those around us.  If we “surf” the energies from reactionary moment to reactionary moment, then that is how we will perish.  The Church has the same choice.  And the Church has behaved the same way, just as Christ told us would happen in the Book of Revelation:

“But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” (Mt 26:56; cf Rev 10:7)

The Church knows the truth of this in her heart, and just as with the disciples, she has deserted Him and fled.

The soldiers who had arrested Jesus took Him to Caiaphas, the high priest. (Mt 26:57)  Peter followed at a distance and parked himself in the courtyard with the guards to see how things would end.  The Church has done the same thing in this relationship with God.  She has parked herself on a bench to see how all things will work itself out.

Meanwhile the priests and whole council were looking for false testimony, so they could put the blame for their discomfort somewhere else.  In the Church’s case, she went looking for false prophets, because we were told to beware of false prophets who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. (ref Mt 7:15)  We not only then started confusing judgment with discernment, but missed the Truth that the media in all its forms can only reflect the truths going on around it.  This is prophetic, in that it reveals what God said is True, but the media itself cannot stand in the Truth, because that requires a personal relationship with God and the media (as a collective unit) is just a structure and a function.  Nothing personal.  And Christ takes us individually and personally.

How else could God purify the Word and His creation, which He made through His Word, if not by bringing it through the redemptive cycle of the Cross?

And Jesus said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.” (Mt 26:61)  And He did.  He started at the spiritual level and progressed to the physical level.  That’s God’s pattern; His way.  God is orchestrating the demonstration of His own perfection and glory.  And it is as true today as it is was true for Jesus before the high priest.  And there is no answer.  Who or what can testify against God?  (ref Mt 26:62)  Jesus was silent.  The Church was silent.  Heaven was silent for about a half an hour. (Revelation 8:1)  What’s there to say?

When the wrestling in the relationship finally stops, then the natural process segues into depression.  We want to look for an outside savior to save us from ourselves.  The high priest said to Jesus, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” (Mt 26:63)  Jesus puts it back on him: “You have said so.”  He said the same thing to Judas when he denied betrayal: “Surly, not I Rabbi?”  And Jesus replied: “You have said so.”  Denial reflects itself.  Deliverance reflects itself. God’s Power reveals itself through Jesus Christ and creation and heaven in our hearts and through our lives.  The power we have as Christians is the power from within our submission to God’s love affair with us in Christ.

Then the priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed!”  When the Church heard what she did not what to hear, she tore her proverbial clothes with “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Depression in the grieving cycle is associated with sadness, discouragement, feelings of despair, and hopelessness.  Signs include loss of appetite, for one, and the Church as Institution lost her appetite for God.  Another sign is sleep disturbances.  The Church has been suffering from anxiety and cannot find rest.  She has corporately gone through every one of the other signs of depression as a body:  depressed energy, intense introspection, feelings of worthlessness, excessive or inappropriate guilt, thoughts of self-harm (or escapism), difficulty concentrating, and loss of interest in her usual activities.

The Church as Institution has spat in Love’s face, struck Him, and slapped Him with her attitude, and then come back at Him saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?” (Mt 26:68)

Meanwhile Peter was going through his own denial journey, and the Church has been going through hers.  Hey Christians, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” (Mt 26:73)  We talk like Christians.  We sound like Christians.  Then she swore an oath, “I do not know the Man!”  At that moment the cock crowed.  Reality dawned.  Humanity has done it again.  And the Church went out and wept bitterly.

When morning came all the “religious” conferred together against Jesus.  They bound and led Love away and handed Him over to Pilate, the governor.  The Church handed herself over to the state.  Whose state of affairs is she in now?  Judas, who had betrayed Jesus, repented.  Has she?  Judas didn’t stay a prisoner to the betrayal energy but tried to make amends and correct the wrong. (Mt 27:3)  He “woke up” and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests.  But they didn’t want it.  They didn’t care that he wanted to make amends:  “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”  Part of the Church has “woken up” and realized our relationship with God has been betrayed at our own hands.  And the “religious” part of the Church is still conferring and has buried the walking wounded in the Field of Blood. (ref Mt 27:8)

In the next scene, Jesus stood before the governor and Jesus uses the tried and true therapeutic method that every psychologist has in his arsenal:  The Broken Record Technique.  The state asked Him: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.” (Mt 27:11)  It is the same response when confronting denial, projection, rejection, and with simple inquiry.  We can make it so, and so it is.  We have power, but if it is not surrendered at the foot of the cross, then we repeat our same mistakes.  Jesus knew He had the Power, but He could not say anything.  That would have been interpreted as arrogance; and really any response at all would have triggered more negative reactions.  He really did not have much of a choice in front of his accusers at that point, so He said nothing.  There is nothing left to say in the face of people who are looking for a fight.  (Mt 27:12)

What do humans do, then, when a mob is looking to pick a fight?  We look for a way out. Jealousy takes hostages and makes scapegoats. (ref 27:18)  The governor allowed the release of a prisoner for the crowd.  In our day the state asked the Church, “Whom should we release?” The Church asked for Values, a “notorious prisoner,” to be handed over.  It’s easy to hand over values when one has forgotten how much one is valued.  Innocence is lost in the process, however innocence might hover in a dream of remembrances: 

“While he [Pilate] was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” (Mt 27:19) 

Before we pass judgment on each other, it is important to remember that we were all innocent children, that we have all suffered, and that we do dream in a real sense (ie, love and Life are not a pipe dream.)  But the “religious” bypassed the state and persuaded the crowds for the release of Values.  Who needs God when one can put one’s own value on things?  The state asked the Church, “Then what should I do with Love who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” (Mt 27:22)  The state saw she could do nothing, and so to prevent a riot she took some water and washed her hands of Love’s blood:  “I am innocent,” said the state.  And the people as a whole answered, “Love’s blood be on us and our children!” (ref Mt 27:25)

So the state released Values and after flogging Love, they handed Him over to be crucified.

The soldiers of the state took Love to the courtyard and gathered the whole cohort around Him.  They stripped Love and put a scarlet robe on Him. (Mt 27:28)  They put a crown of thorns upon His head.  What a great and tender mercy the woman with the alabaster jar of perfumed ointment gave Him, when she anointed His head (Mt 26:6-7) before the Passover and the crucifixion (where Love was passed over.)  At least now through this part of the painful torture, Jesus’ head had good quality oils to sooth the worst of the gouging thorns penetrating his tender scalp.  Unknowingly the Church has done the same as the soldiers: She mocked Love, spat on Love, took the reed and struck Love on the head.  She stripped Love of His robe and put clothes on Him, (which is also the same thing Jesus told Peter: “…and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (Jn 21:18)).  The Institution led Love away to be crucified.  She went out and there came upon Love on the way to the cross and they compelled a small church to carry Love’s cross.  (ref Mt 27:32, ref Rev 3:7-13)

And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of the Skull [gee, it’s all in our heads?] then the Institution offered Love “whine” to drink mixed with gall, but when Love tasted it, He would not drink it.  And when they had crucified Love, they divided His clothes among themselves by casting lots, by chance, but they did not know that Love only grows when it is divided and not hoarded.  But the Church as Institution sat down there and kept watch over Love. (ref Mt 27:36)  Over Love’s head she put the charge against her Husband, who never abandoned or forsook her, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”  There is no getting around the Truth.  It is what it is.  Jesus is King.

Bandits and “religious” continued to deride and mock and taunt Love as He hung on the Cross, and from noon on for three hours, darkness came over the whole land. (Mt 27:45)  There are different kinds of “darkness.”[1]  There is physical darkness.  There is darkness that reflects physically the spiritual events which are taking place.  There is the darkness of Sympathy, where we care so much that it hurts, and we know there is not a thing we can do about it to make it better.  There is the darkness of Solemnity.  God’s holiness shines so brightly upon our humanness that our imperfections and sin are eclipsed.  Even when we try and reach a state of equilibrium and “Nirvana,” without a personal relationship with God’s personal intervening grace and mercy, God’s holiness is too painfully bright.  There is the darkness of Secrecy, where we try and hide from God, ourselves, and each other.  There is the darkness of Guilt, where the soul knows that God was right, and we did what we did anyway.  All of these darknesses coalesce into a loud shout of “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46)  This declaration through the Darkness expresses our universal loneliness.  This shout confronts our betrayals.  It acknowledges that in our darkest times all our friends scatter. It acknowledges that God is still the Father even when we cannot feel Him.  It cries out to Him because the relationship is so imbedded in our lives that it is automatic to cry to Him all the time for every reason and in every season.  This shout confesses our feelings of God-forsakenness, when we feel cut off from His fellowship. 

And the people today are no better at understanding the screams than they were with Jesus. 

Mt 27:47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.”

Elijah was one of the prophets who announced God’s kingdom.  Will the future protect us from the present?  Right now the future seems to be a sponge filled with sour “whine,” put on a stick, and shoved in our faces, based on what the media says.  If we look at the media as a conglomerate “False Prophet” (not necessarily that they are a bunch of liars, but that they do not have the full story no matter how much they strive to get it,) then we may be more understanding of them, and they of us.  Understanding may have a better success rate than …

Mt 27:49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”

Ok, so everyone waits and sees some more…

In any case, the future does not save Jesus from the Cross, and it will not save us from our crosses and the fears of our future, because fear consumes.

27:50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.

The curtain of the temple [the Church, the stubborn heart] was torn in two from top to bottom.  The heart had a spiritual earthquake, and the rocks of hardness were split.  In the grieving cycle, the next step after depression is acceptance.  We surrender to what is.  The Church is in the process of doing this, too.  At the point of surrender, we give over our relationship to God knowing He is in control.  At that point the tombs of our lives are opened, and the bodies of the saints who had fallen “asleep” are raised (Mt 27:52).  The saints “wake up.”  After Love’s resurrection they come out of the tombs of their lives and enter the holy city of God’s presence and appear to many.  This is part of the repentance cycle.  Our lives are changed and we can no longer go around as the “walking dead.”  When repentance is genuine in the heart, it is noticeable like the temple curtain being torn in two.  Our hearts are broken so that we can see His brokenness.  We are all broken together.

Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Love, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly, this man was God’s Son!” Love’s life is both a witness and a testimony.

And the women were there; as we are there. (Mt 27:55)

In the evening a rich disciple of Jesus’ named Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate [the state] and asked for Love’s body.  It was granted and he took the body and wrapped it in clean linen cloth (Mt 27:59) and laid it in his own new tomb and went away.  The wealthy Church took Love, put it in a tomb, rolled a great stone to its door, and went away.

And the women were there, keeping vigil opposite the tomb. (Mt 26:61)

The next day after the Day of Preparation, the “religious” gathered to talk about the situation of the “imposter.”  They were guarding against fraud just like people today guard against identity theft.  The Church as Institution has guarded herself from God’s love for so long that it keeps Love entombed.  She doesn’t want to hear that after three days Love will rise again.  She says, “That’s for you.”  Projection does that.  Projection keeps love at a distance.  It says, “If I keep looking for God outside myself and guard my fears with all my might then maybe God will love me and have pity on me.  He knows I’m tired.”  God knows we’re tired.  God already has pity on us.  He wants us to stop guarding our fears.  Projection (that feast of preparation) doesn’t have an authentic Self, a true identity, so it guards everything to keep it at a distance.  It wants and needs to keep itself safe.  Projection is constantly preparing its day so that it can be safe; so that it can plan and rehearse what it wants to say ahead of time; so that it can manipulate and manage to get all the right people and all the right things in all the right places, so that it can manage and control its choices, because it is so overwhelmed all the time.  It wants to ensure that there will be no surprises, and everything proceeds as expected. So, Pilate [the state] gave the “religious” what they wanted. 

27:65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”

So their solution was to seal Love with a stone.

The “awake” Church does know the last step in the grieving process after acceptance is forgiveness.  Matthew’s Gospel lesson passage from the Revised Common Lectionary Year A, which the mainline denominations have agreed upon to use, stops at the end of Matthew Chapter 27, because the next chapter describes the Resurrection.  One’s life cannot be resurrected without forgiveness and surrender.  Matthew’s Gospel does not include, “Father, forgive them for they know no what they do.” (Luke 23:34)  John’s Gospel shares that Jesus’ life ended with “It is finished” and He gave up His spirit (John 19:30).  We need all the Gospels and the whole Bible for this repetitive cycle of human nature to make sense.  The “religious” whom Matthew spoke to in his Gospel got the same message that the “religious” hear today.  The words connect past to present to reveal God’s glory in the future.  The Church must seek God’s face, ask His forgiveness, tell Him He was right, and allow the redemptive work of the Holy Spirit to make whole the relationship with God which has been broken.  Forgiveness says, “What happened was wrong, and I choose to wish you well.”  It does not blame who was wrong.  This divorce of Church from her God must, can, and will heal once she bows her head in submission and repentance.  Holy Week, this week, IS that forgiveness journey between the Church and God.  Her heart does not have to remain sealed with a stone.  Resurrection is around the corner.  Our mission as “awake” believers is to LIVE into the mission, should we choose to accept it, to get our eyes off ourselves and live a purposeful, loving life as a body, the Bride of Christ, in love with her Groom.  Church, remember your First Love!

 

Palm Sunday           17 April 2011                                    Passion Gospel: Matthew 26:14-27:66

Isaiah 50:4-9a
50:4 The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens– wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.

50:5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.

50:6 I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.

50:7 The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame;

50:8 he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.

50:9a It is the Lord GOD who helps me; who will declare me guilty?

Psalm 31:9-16
31:9 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.

31:10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away.

31:11 I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.

31:12 I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.

31:13 For I hear the whispering of many– terror all around!– as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.

31:14 But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”

31:15 My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.

31:16 Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.

Philippians 2:5-11
2:5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

2:6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,

2:7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,

2:8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.

2:9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,

2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

2:11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Matthew 26:14-27:66
26:14 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests

26:15 and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver.

26:16 And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

26:17 On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

26:18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'”

26:19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

26:20 When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve;

26:21 and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

26:22 And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?”

26:23 He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.

26:24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”

26:25 Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”

26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”

26:27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you;

26:28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

26:29 I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

26:30 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

26:31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

26:32 But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”

26:33 Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.”

26:34 Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

26:35 Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples.

26:36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

26:37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated.

26:38 Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.”

26:39 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”

26:40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour?

26:41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

26:42 Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

26:43 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.

26:44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words.

26:45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

26:46: Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

26:47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.

26:48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.”

26:49 At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

26:50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.

26:51 Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

26:52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

26:53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?

26:54 But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?”

26:55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me.

26:56 But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

26:57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered.

26:58 But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end.

26:59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death,

26:60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward

26: 61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'”

26:62 The high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?”

26:63 But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

26:64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

26:65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy.

26:66 What is your verdict?” They answered, “He deserves death.”

26:67 Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him,

26:68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?”

26:69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.”

26:70 But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.”

26:71 When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

26:72 Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.”

26:73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.”

26:74 Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed.

26:75 Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

27:1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death.

27:2 They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

27:3 When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.

27:4 He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”

27:5 Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.

27:6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.”

27:7 After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners.

27:8 For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.

27:9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price,

27:10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

27:11 Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.”

27:12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer.

27:13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?”

27:14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

27:15 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted.

27:16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas.

27:17 So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

27:18 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over.

27:19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.”

27:20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed.

27:21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.”

27:22 Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!”

27:23 Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

27:24 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”

27:25 Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”

27:26 So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

27:27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him.

27:28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,

27:29 and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

27:30 They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.

27:31 After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

27:32 As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross.

27:33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull),

27:34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.

27:35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots;

27:36 then they sat down there and kept watch over him.

27:37 Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

27:38 Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.

27:39 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads

27:40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

27:41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying,

27:42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him.

27:43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.'”

27:44 The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

27:45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.

27:46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

27:47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.”

27:48 At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink.

27:49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”

27:50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.

27:51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split.

27:52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.

27:53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.

27:54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

27:55 Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him.

27:56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

27:57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.

27:58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.

27:59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth

27:60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.

27:61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

27:62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate

27:63 and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’

27:64 Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.”

27:65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”

27:66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

 

 


[1] The discussion on “darkness” here is shared from a radio broadcast by a pastor who’s name I did not catch, so I cannot give him due credit, here.  In any case, I wish to thank him for his wonderful message.

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