The Gospel reading this year for Monday of Holy week is Luke 22:1-23. I am going to be following the readings this year rather than going through chronologically.
Each time I read the Gospels new things pop up. It’s like I’ve totally missed it before. Or maybe I had just never considered it quite like that. The thing that really struck me today was verse 2.
Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. 2 The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.
It’s a sad fact that fear is such a huge driver in our world. Were the priests and scribes personally afraid of Jesus? Maybe. But more likely they were afraid of the population. Crowds and groups can act in ways that lead us into places that we would rather not go. Afraid of what he would bring into being. Afraid that the people would follow someone else. And so we need to “sort it”. We need to “deal with them”.
Fear of the people is often driving our society at the moment.
And that can lead to ugly places.
Paul Kennedy, in a chapter in “Fresh Expressions of Church and the Kingdom of God” reminds us
Human beings are often drawn to demonize another person or group. For example, our suffering in the recession is the fault of bankers, or benefit scroungers, or immigrants (depending on how you view the world). Then in your mind, these people need to pay a price because of the damage they have caused.”
Their reaction was “natural”. Jesus threatened society and how it ran. Jesus threatened to lead the people astray. They saw that he was a danger to how society was run. He threatened their power and influence. He needed to pay the price.
We look around the world and so often there is a price that needs to be paid.
We want to find a scapegoat to prop up our position and our power.
Someone is asking difficult questions in church and so they need to be stopped (or rather told where they have gone wrong).
Or things seem difficult and so we react out of fear.
Or we prefer that people behave as we do and we would rather not have other people in the church.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed
Jesus is the Paschal Lamb.
The lamb that is sacrificed.
He is the ultimate scapegoat.
The one on whom all our fears are placed.
Who does this for the sake of all people.
No longer do we need another scapegoat because Jesus is our scapegoat.
So, no longer do we need to act from fear. No longer do we need to fear what might be. No longer do we need to fear or hate others unlike ourselves. Jesus is our paschal lamb. All our fears are placed on Him. He carries them all.
We can now live freely. We can live lives of grace and love. When people accuse us we can love in return. Instead of living out of fear and anger we can live a life of grace. We can utter words of grace to those around us precisely because Jesus bears all the anger and fear and hatred of the entire world.
Previous years Easter Meditations: