A View From The Vicarage, April 2017
As you read this, our long Lenten journey is gradually drawing to a close and the emotional and theological rollercoaster ride that is Holy Week and Easter will be upon us. In Welsh Holy Week is “Yr Wythnos Fawr” the Great Week. It seems to me that that is an extremely appropriate description of the events of those tumultuous days in Jerusalem so many centuries ago. It’s no coincidence that the events of that momentous week are by some margin the most fully recorded of all of Jesus’ life in the four Gospels of the New Testament. While we may find no mention of Christ’s birth in two of the Gospels all four of them provide extremely detailed accounts of the last days of his life. This is unsurprising because his passion, death and resurrection are the crown of his earthly ministry; the moment which he repeatedly reminds his disciples the entirety of his life was moving inexorably towards. The one area where the Gospels seem to diverge is in their understanding of what was actually happening behind the apparent suffering, failure and humiliation of his passion.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke portray Christ as the willing victim who chooses not to exercise power that he possesses to alter the circumstances in which he finds himself.
The account in the Gospel of John while narrating the same events reads rather differently. Despite appearances to the contrary it is Christ who is in control of events, he goads the Jewish authorities into a situation in which they have only one response, he debates with Pontius Pilate and the journey to the cross reads not like the sordid attempt of an overwhelming state to rid itself of someone who had become a thorn in its side but rather the anointing and enthroning of a new king. John doesn’t ignore Christ’s considerable suffering but for him the powerless victim is conversely the one exercising ultimate power.
That surely is the message of the crucifixion it is not an innocent victim appeasing a capricious deity it is God’s self-giving of himself to nullify the effects of human sinfulness. The God who remains silent in the Garden of Gethsamene is the same God who endures the cross of Calvary and the same God who, in the person of Jesus Christ breaks the cycle of sin and death through the resurrection on the first Easter morning.
But for who? Christ’s death and resurrection is for the whole of humanity, but it’s also for each and every human person. Christ died and rose again for you and me whether we accept him or follow him or not.
My prayer for all of us is that we will all enter more deeply into the mystery and events of that truly Great Week, so that we may rejoice more fully in the triumph of Easter.
Through it may you and all those you love be truly and abundantly blessed.
With my love and prayers at Easter as always