Thursday after the Fifth Sunday in Lent
Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” Mark 15:29-30
Are these the same people who sang, “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” only four days ago? Are these same people who threw palm branches in the path of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem? I would hope not, but suspect that many who ridiculed Jesus as he hung on that cross in shame and suffering, many who had yelled “Crucify him, crucify him” just hours earlier where the same people.
It’s doubtful that there were two separate crowds in Jerusalem, one that shouted “Hosanna” and another that yelled “Crucify him!” Even given the possibility that the religious leaders may have hired some persons to manipulate the crowd, this speaks more to our fickle human nature.
A significant number of these people could have been at the Sermon on the Mount, and if they did not physically follow Jesus around, they aurally followed his teachings and healings. But as he hangs there in disgrace it is so easy to scorn him, to turn his teaching into mockery.
The bullies of this world do that. They mock those they perceive as less than themselves. They blow this way and that, always seeking the advantage. They laugh at compassion and call it weakness. They do all this to keep from realizing how empty they are, how lonely and how much they hurt. But, this trait is not far below the surface of all humanity. Just look at how Hitler manipulated the crowds.
It is for this reason that we need to look at the baseness of our nature in Lent, that we need to see how weak we can be. It is important for us to realize that Jesus must constantly pray for us, “Father, forgive them….”
Loving God, who holds us responsible for our neighbors, put a fire in our hearts and ignite our passion so that through our words and actions we may work with you in bringing about justice for all humankind; in the name of your Son whom you anointed to set us free. Amen.
The Rev. E. Edward Shiley
Saint David’s Church, Radnor