I would have cut and run as well. I would have run into that darkness to save my body, not caring that I was leaving behind my soul.
You see, before anyone saw the light and bright of Easter Sunday, darkness prevailed. Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem probably led many to hope, “Now, someone will get rid of these Roman oppressors!”
They saw Jesus as “messiah,” the sent one who would set them free. Messiahs live in a world of misunderstanding, especially those who come preaching peace and concern for the outsiders, not war and gaining as much as possible for the self.
Actually no one really wants peace at all, not then, not now. We mostly want victory over our enemies. We want to see them vanquished. I taught that word to my six-year-old grandson last month and was intrigued to see how quickly he latched onto it. He loved the power of the word. “Vanquished,” stomped on, defeated, servile, flattened. Part of our human nature.
Peace never resides where one side has been vanquished, despite my grandson’s fondness for the word. Peace never resides where the victor crows and the defeated cower. Peace never resides where we have had our way at the neglect of the other.
Peace asks too much. We can’t be at peace with each other, and certainly not with the stranger, the “others,” the opponents, the differents, without being at peace with ourselves. To find peace with ourselves demands too much attention.
We have to know ourselves, know when we are violating the core of what it means to be fully human. We have to be so internally integrated that our outside actions and decisions flow only from that, not from reaction, or fear, or anger, or lust, or envy, or greed, or any other kind of ugliness.
So, seriously, Jesus, as Messiah, didn’t have a chance. He called for that kind of peace–and it scares the innards out of most folks.
Thus everyone cut and ran when things got really tough for Jesus. Judas may have taken much of the blame for selling his soul, but the rest were just as bad.
And I would have run as well. So would you. Because betrayal is second nature to us when staying loyal means torture, loneliness, pain and death.
Think about the betrayals in your life. Who made promises and then walked away? Who held out hopes of affection and then laughed when you got caught in a web of lies and deceit? Who gossiped about you and broke confidences? Who stabbed you in the back over a business deal or cut you out of a coveted social circle? Who said they were one thing and then turned out to be something totally different.
Worse, you (and I) have done exactly the same to others. We simply prefer to think we are above such things, which makes all of us liars.
And so this week, into the darkness, into soul and body pain unimaginable in extent, comes the words from Jesus, “Forgive them–they really don’t know what they are doing.”
Forgive them, release them, don’t hold it against them. Only with those words does anyone, including Jesus, find life after death.
Those words of forgiveness give freedom; they let the sun come up again, even when the darkness seems so impenetrable that nothing could possibly dissipate it.
Jesus gathered to himself all the betrayal of humanity. Jesus holds it for us–so we don’t have to. He took it all in, and transformed it into real peace.
And that is why there is a resurrection. That’s why we can get free. That’s where peace resides.
And Easter comes, my friend. It comes for you and for me–when we can echo those words, “Forgive them.” And add these, “And forgive me.”
A blessed Easter season to all.