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Lent is a time for Christians to fully examine their relationship with the Lord. Through prayer, sacrifice and service, we develop an understanding of what it means to "take up your cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) As Christians, we are called to live Christ's life- not to study the life of Jesus and try to be like Him, but actually let Him live through us.

In my own journey this Lent, Our Lord is asking me to fully understand His love. Through several prayer experiences, I hear him calling me to this deeper understanding of His love- not just with my head, but with my heart. And the key to understanding that amazing love is to understand His suffering. My intellect understands that the Lord suffered, but I have never explored His suffering with my heart. His love is greater than His suffering, but how great was that suffering?

I am participating in an independent Threshold Bible Study called People of the Passion by Stephen J. Binz. In this study, I will explore the meaning of discipleship through the people who encounter Jesus during His passion. These people witness and are impacted by the suffering of Jesus. They saw the suffering of our Lord first hand. It is my hope that by going on this journey through their eyes, I will have a better understanding of His suffering and then of His love.

Please know that I am not a scholar. I have no formal education in theology, philosophy or church history. I'm just a regular person trying to make sense of what Jesus is asking me to do- to love like He loves.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 18- Pilate Hands Jesus Over for Crucifixion

John 19:5

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck him repeatedly. Once more Pilate went out and said to them, "Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in him." So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he said to them, "Behold, the man!" When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him." 2 The Jews answered, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God." Now when Pilate heard this statement, he became even more afraid, and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus, "Where are you from?" Jesus did not answer him. So Pilate said to him, "Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?" Jesus answered (him), "You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin." Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out, "If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar. 3 Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar." When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out and seated him 4 on the judge's bench in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha. It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon. 5 And he said to the Jews, "Behold, your king!" They cried out, "Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your king?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

In his commentary, Binz explains that Pilate is actually the one on trial.  He does not want to make a decision concerning the fate of Jesus.  He does not want to have to choose between right and wrong.  Pilate has Jesus scourged and mocked in an effort to show the crowd that Jesus is just a miserable man who does not deserved to be listened to.  The crowd (and the religious leaders inciting the crowd) are not fooled.  They continue to call for Pilate to crucify Jesus.  It is interesting to note that it was noon on the Day of Preparation for the Passover when Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.  Ritually, at noon on that day, the priests in the temple slaughter the passover lambs.

Have you ever seen the Passion of the Christ?  I watched it for the first time last year.  I always avoided that movie because I wanted to remain in the dark about the suffering of my Lord.  I love Him with all my heart and I just couldn't bear to watch that movie.  I knew the visual images in that movie would be burned into my memory and haunt me for the rest of my days.   And I was right.  Those images did haunt me.  After I watched that movie, I dreamed I was in the crowd.  I dreamed I was watching the whole thing.  I locked eyes with the Lord.  I was in the crowd paralyzed with fear.  I could do nothing.  I wonder if that is how his disciples felt.  I wonder if they were in the crowd.  I wonder if they felt helpless and afraid.  I wonder if they were waiting for a miracle.  It must have broken their hearts to see their Lord and Master in this condition.  There was someone else in the crowd watching this whole thing too.  Our Mother Mary.  Not only was she in the crowd, but she watched when they beat him almost to death.  She was his divine support here on earth.  When God made Mary, he gave her all the graces she needed to watch this moment and stay strong.  If it were me, I would have acted like a lunatic.  But she was his rock. 

So, think about it.  Put yourself in the crowd.  Be in that moment.  Because that moment is for you.  He died for you.  His Mother watched him die so that you may gain life.  His love for you is greater than all the pain he feels at that moment.

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