Pause for Thought March 2019

I wonder what most people are thinking about as we approach Easter? Maybe it is the first holiday of the year or a bit of time off to get the garden into order or even that visit to family living far off.  Certainly it will give time to breathe, away from the world news that seems full of stories of argument, bitterness and revenge.  Those may be in the thoughts of many of us but Easter is so much more than a Spring holiday and wouldn’t happen at all but for a man who was unjustly put to death and then defied everyone by coming to life after being safely laid in a stone tomb with a large rock pulled across the entrance guarded by Roman soldiers. It is a lifetime’s work thinking about this piece of history.

For me I am constantly fascinated by the ordinary people in this story. What were their emotions from the moment that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey , through his trial and then crucifixion and that moment in the garden when he spoke to Mary Magdalene? Then this year I read someone asking the question ‘What did Jesus NOT do?’ He did not retaliate… And that seemed to me to be an important message for the blame culture in which we live.

The dialogue on the Friday morning that we call Good Friday was vitriolic. Onlookers called out: ‘ Come down from the cross if you are the Son of God.’ Religious leaders muttered ‘He saved others but he can’t save himself.’  And from the soldiers: ‘ If you are the King of the Jews save yourself.’

Bitter words. Wasn’t it enough that he was being crucified? Were the nails insufficient? Was the crown of thorns too soft? Had the flogging been too short?  Of all scenes around the cross this is the one that always leaves me speechless.  What sort of people would mock a dying man? How perverted to sneer at one laced with pain. These words were meant to wound… and there is nothing more painful than words meant to hurt. 

But notice what Jesus did not do. He did not retaliate. He did not say, ‘I’ll get you.’ ‘Come on up here and say that to my face.’ ‘Just wait until after the resurrection buddy.’  He did not take on the task of revenge. He demanded no apology. He, to the astounding contrary, spoke in their defence leaving the judgement to God saying:

‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’

And, of course they did not. They were a stir crazy mob and yet Jesus showed only compassion.  And this, for me this year, is the wonder of the Easter story. 

So let’s go on planning a Happy Easter holiday and pray that our news is full of good stories showing forgiveness and compassion.

Margaret Venables

“Pause for Thought” this month comes from 
Canon Margaret Venables - Telephone: 01780 749127