Good Friday

Our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem was like a ticker tape parade. The original one, in 1886, an impromptu celebration.

Jesus had grassroots support that few celebrities or politicos achieve. Our Lord could have written his own ticket. All he had to do was keep that enthusiasm going.

Next thing we read in Luke’s account is our Lord saying that something awful will happen to Jerusalem. That’s in Luke 19:4144.

That’s a bit odd, coming from someone riding the crest of popularity’s wave.

But doom and gloom play well to some audiences, and that’s another topic.

Luke’s next stop is Jesus going berserk in the temple area. Or, as John put it, exhibiting impressive zeal.

“He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables,
“and to those who sold doves he said, ‘Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.’
“His disciples recalled the words of scripture, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.'”
(John 2:13-17)

I don’t see a problem with what Jesus did. I think he’s the Son of God, and was exercising legitimate authority. Sort of like the boss seeing that someone set up a BYOB bar, and telling them to get back to work.

I can also see the cleansing of the temple as several criminal offenses. These days, they’d probably include disturbing the peace, vandalism and interference with commerce by threats or violence.

The Powers that Be

Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t agree on Hellenization, the Torah and Mosaic Laws.

They didn’t see liturgy the same way either.

But I’m pretty sure they liked being among the powers that be. They weren’t the only major players.

Judea was a Roman province in the first century. Pontius Pilate, a Roman equites, was nominally in charge. He was one of the equites, sort of like medieval knights; above plebeians on Rome’s ladder but below senators. (November 26, 2017)

Pilate was in an unenviable position. Judea was a a vital and vulnerable link in the Rome-Egypt trade route.1

Being put in charge of a strategically important and volatile province was probably a high honor. If he kept the route open, sent taxes back to Rome, and didn’t use too many resources doing it.

The Pharisees and other folks in the Sanhedrin had their own concerns.

“So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, ‘What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs.
“If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.'”
(John 11:51:8)

No wonder the Pharisees and Sadducees tried saddling Pilate with their Jesus problem. Pilate tried passing the buck to Herod. Who sent the troublemaker back to Pilate.

Viewpoints

I’ve read that Pilate’s interview with Jesus was ‘circuitous’ or ‘ambiguous.’ It arguably is, by contemporary American standards.

I’ll give Pilate credit for asking our Lord reasonable questions.

Reasonable from his viewpoint. Folks aren’t all alike. Neither are cultures. On the other hand, we’re all alike.

Each of us has “the same nature and the same origin.” Differences exist. This is a good thing, or should be. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 814, 19341938, 1957)

I see our Lord’s part of that interview as reasonable, too. That’s partly because I’m living about two millennia later, with access to what some of the world’s best minds have about our Lord’s life and death. (November 26, 2017)

Trial by Opinion Poll

I don’t know why Pilate washed his hands, literally and figuratively, turning the trial of Jesus into a referendum. Or opinion poll.

“The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
“The governor said to them in reply, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release to you?’ They answered, ‘Barabbas!’
“Pilate said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus called Messiah?’ They all said, ‘Let him be crucified!’
“But he said, ‘Why? What evil has he done?’ They only shouted the louder, ‘Let him be crucified!’
“When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, but that a riot was breaking out instead, he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. Look to it yourselves.'”
(Matthew 17:2024)

That is not how judicial proceedings should work. Not America’s, Imperial Rome’s, or any other. (June 1, 2018; March 19, 2018; February 5, 2017)

Torture, Humiliation and Death


(From “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” used w/o permission.)

I’m not sure why folks who believe Jesus is God occasionally balk at thinking he’s also human. Maybe it didn’t seem sufficiently ‘spiritual.’ (April 21, 2018)

I don’t know how the Jesus can be human and divine. Not on an operational level. I don’t understand how the Trinity works either. (March 12, 2017)

But accepting Jesus as the Son of God, human and divine, comes with being Catholic. (John 1:14; Catechism, 285, 456478, 517)

Maybe that’s understandable.

Believing that a human could be killed is one thing. Folks die every day.

Believing that someone who actually the Son of God could die? That’s not so easy.

But like I said, believing that our Lord died comes with being Catholic. (Catechism, 599)

Getting back to that first Good Friday.

After a dubiously-legal trial, Jesus was tortured, humiliated and nailed to a cross on Golgotha. Between two criminals.

Folks in Jerusalem didn’t want dead bodies hanging around. Not with Passover coming. Someone asked Pilate to expedite the process.

“So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
“But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs,
“but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.”
(John 19:3234)

Jesus was dead.2 With the physical, mental and emotional stress he’d endured, it’s almost a wonder he lasted as long as he did, and that’s yet another topic.

For anyone else, that would have been the end. But Jesus isn’t anyone else.

I’ve said that before:


1 Background:

2 Dead? Dead:

About Brian H. Gill

I'm a sixty-something married guy with six kids, four surviving, in a small central Minnesota town. I mostly write and make digital art. I'm only interested in three things: that which exists within the universe; that which exists beyond; and that which might exist.
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