Maundy Thursday and Good Friday reflections on Matthew’s account of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
There’s an interesting parade of people throughout Matthew’s account of the last supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Everyone, whether individually or as a group, display a wide range of behaviours and reactions.
- Jesus’ disciples, notably Judas Iscariot, Peter, James and John, who waver between faithfulness and fear.
- There are the religious and civil authorities who try to discredit Jesus, desperately seeking out false witnesses and questioning Jesus’ authority.
- The two convicted robbers who are crucified alongside Jesus, join in the mockery.
- Charged with enforcing the decision of Pontius Pilate, the derisive soldiers and centurions play between mockery and belief.
- In contrast, there are weeping women and Simon of Cyrene who show compassion to Jesus amid a boisterous, mocking crowd of people, some of whom were waving palms in adoration and praise of Jesus just a few days before.
I believe that the need to be right was at the root of all these reactions.
Being right is based on our understanding of what we believe to be true.
During Lent, Christians spend much time reflecting on the ways to deepen their understanding of God’s truth to support our quest to live and thrive in a right relationship with God.
Seeking the truth and the desire to be right very often means we must release beliefs that don’t serve us. Releasing can involve resistance or surrender, or both.
Resistance to declaring the truth we already know, is based on the fear of the consequences of integrity.
- Peter knew who Jesus was and vowed to never deny his association with Jesus. When confronted with making the choice to associate with Jesus in His most unpopular hour, Peter let fear conquer his conviction. He would later regret this, but courageously reclaimed and proclaimed the truth about his identity as Jesus’ disciple.
- Pontius Pilate, despite all the evidence, condemned Jesus to death by crucifixion. His decision was based purely on public opinion. Public opinion can be shaped by loud misguided voices that are devoid of truth and integrity. Leading with integrity requires an unwavering commitment to the truth. Pilate knew this. He had the courage to declare his own truth but feared the consequences. He saw that he was getting nowhere, but rather that a riot was breaking out, he took water and washed his hands [to ceremonially cleanse himself of guilt] in the presence of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this [righteous] Man’s blood; see to that”
Surrendering on the other hand, very often leads us to the truth we are seeking. It is hard, because it is the way of faith and accepting the Wisdom of uncertainty.
Surrendering requires us to change our perspective on the circumstances in our lives. Rather than resisting adversity, we are better off embracing it with a deepened desire to know the truth about ourselves and to understand God’s will.
Amid the chaos of shouting crowds, Judas’ suicide, Jesus’ death, and an earthquake, there was a group of women who looked on from a distance and stayed by Jesus’ grave, not knowing what was going to happen next.
Being faithful in the face of uncertainty, led to the revelation of the fulness of the truth that Jesus taught them. He had to die for our sins and then rise in proof that He is the Son of God and Savior of the world.
- The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said [He would]. Come! See the place where He was lying. Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee [as He promised]. There you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”
The act of surrendering to God’s will not only benefits us as individuals but may also influence the lives of other people.
By surrendering to God’s will, Jesus’ death and resurrection gave credibility to everything Jesus taught and to the way He lived and died. Even though none of Jesus’ detractors liked his teachings, many of them were converted and accepted the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
- The centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, they were terribly frightened and filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
I really believe that our life here on earth is a journey of constant learning. We evolve to our highest level of spiritual awareness and understanding when we commit to understand God’s truth for us and for all humankind. Add Bible study, prayer and meditation to your daily routine.
Christ in you, the hope of glory. That’s why glory matters!