Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Were you there? Lent 35

"My kingdom is not of this world".... "Do you want me to release the king of the Jews"? They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!"

My wife, Rebekah, shared a short story with me one day that had won a competition (years ago) sponsored by a British newspaper. The essential idea concerned a time in the future where people could travel through history for their vacation.

The family in question considered several key historical events. One child wanted to attend the Battle of Hastings in 1066; another was interested in the Mayflower landing in the New World. Finally they chose the crucifixion of Jesus for their "Destination Vacation." "Very educational," the parents agreed.

So they entered a chamber with around 100 others. In preparation they were given special pills that changed their appearance and their language to that of the local inhabitants - in this case, Hebrews. They were also dressed accordingly.

"It is critical," the tour guide explained, "that we all fit in. Under no circumstance should your behavior deviate from that expected of history. It's dangerous to stand out." He went on to detail several examples, including the famous crowd response to call for Barabbas. "No matter what you feel, you must shout out, 'Crucify Jesus!' along with everyone else."

Once in Jerusalem, they found themselves carried by a huge throng into the market place. There were also many people congregated in doorways, shops and alleys, looking at the growing crowd with suspicion and something resembling fear. Something just didn't feel right, but they went along with their instructions. But there was something about those people cowering in the shadows that nagged at their minds.

As soon as Jesus was dragged out there was a hushed silence. It was quiet across the square; you could have heard a shekel drop. Then, nervous about being exposed, mindful of their instructions, one of the vacation family yelled out, timidly but clearly, "Crucify him!" It actually sounded out of place. Quickly, the rest of the group joined in and before a second or two had passed the entire crowd picked up the cry. "CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY!"

It almost sounded rehearsed.

Suddenly, the family realised with an awful shock what was happening. The market place was packed with time-travel tourists from the future. They had all been instructed to act in the same way. Their group was just one of many. It was the indigenous population and those visiting for the passover who were hiding in the shops and the doorways.

"It is us! We're the ones who are crucifying Jesus!"

What a stunning indictment! Yes, it was us; it is us. In a sense, we were there. Jesus went to the cross with our shortcomings in mind; our separation from God. He died with my name on his final breath.

PRAYER: It is amazing to think about our own complicity; yet we must own our own sin if we are to adequately experience your forgiveness. Amen

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