Celebrating Easter: Trial And Crucifixion Of Jesus Christ And Our Contemporary World
Easter, is celebrated every year to mark the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ some 2000 years ago. This happened about 33 A.D. From this stems out three important things and the lessons to learn thereof―betrayal, denial and condemnation. It doesn’t matter whether you belief it or not.
It is known that Judas Iscariot betrayed his master for 30 pieces of silver. The most painful thing about betrayal is that it never comes from an enemy, but closed allies. “It is not an enemy who taunts me―then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me―then I could hide from him. But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to hold sweet converse together; within God’s house we walked in fellowship, says Ps 55:12-14. Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve apostles. The question is, but why did Judas betray his master?
In our contemporary world, lack of trust and unquenchable thirst for wealth would answer the question. It is recorded that Judas didn’t even spend the money. He threw it away and committed suicide after the chief priests refused his plea to collect back the money and free Jesus. Apparently, this wasn’t the results Judas wanted. He allowed his personal desire for material gains to rule him. A caution, to us, especially who come into daily contact with money. We shouldn’t crucify our conscience for unruly desires.
Bribery and corruption are so pervasive in our public space that one needs not to talk of it. The former, is borne out of personal desire and passion to get things done by every means. It isn’t different from Judas’ act.
Jesus was denied justice. The Jewish law protected a prisoner from incriminating himself through questioning. Therefore, Annas’ questioning of Jesus not only violated the principle of fair and just trial but their customary laws and practices as well. After Jesus was arrested, they first sent Him to Annas. Annas was the father-in-law of Cai’aphas who was high priest that year. Annas had found his way through to become the high priest and also to be succeeded by his sons. Now, his own son-in-law has been put there, no doubt because of his great influence and power. Is this any different from our nepotistic world today?
In a trial of any case, when the judge declares the accused not guilty, all wait expectedly to hear “and therefore, acquitted and discharged”. Then walks away the accused free! This wasn’t the case. For Pilate himself declared, “I find no crime in him”―Jn 18:38.
Pilate was determined to free Jesus, for he knew it was out of jealousy they accused him but due to pressure from the mob, he delivered an unfair judgment. How are our courts and justice delivery system today? One may not be far from right to say that the law only applies to the poor. For example, a tuber of cassava thief who is jailed for five years, whilst a public officer embezzles thousands of cedi walks freely is a classical case in point.
The desire to please the mob and a lack of courage to do the right thing, free and fair conscience and judgment puts Pilate in a bad light as a weak ruler. As was the custom, a prisoner was released for the Jews a day before the Passover. Now, Pilate still tried to release Jesus for this reason, but they opted for Barabbas instead. Barabbas, who was a bandit awaiting execution while in prison was supposed to die by all means. Sometimes, the innocent takes the place of the guilty, especially in a world of today full of hate and despise for the poor.
Pilate refused to listen to his inner self, the voice of truth and conscience rather than the crowd. It is recorded that his wife sent message to him during the trial that, he shouldn’t shed the blood of an innocent man. Because she had a vision the previous night the man is innocent. At this, why wouldn’t Pilate free the accused?
Sometimes, we sacrifice the truth to save our job or livelihood. The crowd insisted that if he lets this man goes, he is no friend of Caesar―(Jn 19:12). Pilate had to still main his friendship with the Roman King and still be clung to power. Think of the times the truth is compromised in order for us to stay on the job or power.
The Romans and the Jews were arch-enemies. The latter resisted the former’s rule and dominion. The Jews recognized not the authority and power of the Romans and didn’t acknowledge them as such. The question is why will they arrest their own and hand over to the foreign Romans, whose authority they didn’t regard, for trial and execution? This is what jealousy and hatred do to us. An enemy’s enemy becomes a friend!
Pilate and Herod, though were enemies before, reconciled and became friends that day. Because of Jesus the new enemy, the two enemies became friends! Pilate allowed his name to be muddied. Years after the death of Jesus, in A.D 325, the Nicene Creed was promulgated and often recited by Christians. Pontius Pilate is mentioned! thus; “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth,
…Suffered under Pontius Pilate, crucified died and was buried…”
Think of the 28th February, 1948 riots and Cross Road shooting incidence at the Christiansburg Castle in Ghana. The name of British’s Police Officer, Superintended Imray, who shot into the crowd of the unarmed men, killing three instantly, is written in brass in the political history of Ghana. Commemorating this every year, the three martyrs, Sergeant Adjetey, Nii Odartey Lamptey and Corporal Attipoe are honoured. The Police Officer is also mentioned. This is a lesson to all especially political leaders.
Remember also political party vigilantism and violence and the youth, who are always contracted by politicians to cause mayhem and destroy the peace during electioneering.
Don’t let your name be written in your country’s or organization’s creed and always be remembered for the wrong reason, especially when you are no more alive to exonerate yourself.
With their testimony and insistence, Pilate was coerced to grant their wish and so, he delivered Jesus out to be crucified. Justice was sacrificed for power and authority.
Now, on the way to Calvary, the soldiers compelled one Simeon of Cyrene (Libya) to help carry the cross. Simeon was the father of Rufus and Alexander. At another point, Veronica wiped the bloody face of Jesus. Both offered humanitarian services and help, out of love and compassion.
Think of mob injustices! Where are the “Simeons” and “Veronicas” in our contemporary world?
After the crucifixion and death of Jesus, Joseph from Arimathea and Nicodemus defied the scorn of the Jews and asked for the dead body to bury. These two were Jews and secret disciples of Jesus and members of the Sanhedrin. They clearly disagreed with the scheme and verdict, but couldn’t do otherwise, and so showed their loyalty at the end. The world is still full of good people, if you cannot find one, be one.
Easter was just last week, 21st April, 2019. On this day, when Christians worldwide celebrated, Sri Lanka experienced a catastrophic church bomb attack in which at least 253 people died. In Ghana, the National Chief Imam visited a church in preparation towards his centenary birthday celebration and to promote inter-religious or faith dialogue and peace which he has stood for over a long period of time. This was remarkable and added to the accolade that Ghana is a peaceful country and stands tall and a beacon of hope for Africa and the world. “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”, Mother Theresa.
Easter has gradually come to a close and not an end with tomorrow, 28th April, 2019 being Divine Mercy Sunday. There is so much to ponder on whether Christian or Muslim. May the souls of Sri Lanka bombing victims and others rest in peace.
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