This Scripture is the basis for Good Friday. I know, last week we already addressed Good Friday, but this Scripture really captures the essence of it. But hey, did you know that we are in the midst of Easter, even as we look at the Good Friday Scripture. Easter is not just a single day, but rather an entire season that lasts through Pentecost. We sing Easter songs and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection even more than normal because of the season in which we find ourselves.
But the Scripture in which we find ourselves is still Good Friday. Pilate seems to be having second thoughts since our reading yesterday. He continues to repeatedly bring Jesus out to the religious leaders and tells them that he finds no guilt in him. But they insist that he must be crucified. Eventually they win out. The pain and the suffering and the beatings that Jesus undergoes in this Scripture is more evident than in any of the other Gospels. If John reminds us consistently that Jesus is God then in these verses we are reminded that God suffered on our behalf.
Pilate’s final act of rebellion against the people takes place as he posts on Jesus’ cross: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. The people didn’t like that because it seemed like Pilate was indeed calling him the King of the Jews (which in fact he was). Just say that he thought he was the King of the Jews. But Pilate didn’t budge. For me it was his final way of saying that you may have gotten your crucifixion, but I was able to ease my conscience by placing the blame squarely on you. Matthew 27:25 is a verse that places the blame squarely on the religious leaders in a way that historically Christians have been able to use to persecute the Jewish people.
Another painting by Caravaggio where we have Jesus on the column where he was flogged and slapped and beaten. It is not my favorite of his paintings just because it is so antiseptic. There is no blood, there is no sweat. Mel Gibson would have been disappointed.
But Scripture actually does have all of that as well as Jesus having the presence of mind to hand over his mother to the disciple that he loved. As I mentioned earlier, even though this is an unnamed disciple many believe, including myself, that this is the Gospel writer John who is given charge over Mary. Interestingly enough in Ephesus near the spot where John was buried you can look up on a hill and see the home where tradition has it that Mary lived out the rest of her life. All of this is entirely without biblical support, but that does not mean that there is no historical support. One of these years the church ought to take a trip to Turkey and see those churches of St. Paul that have so much connection to our understanding of who Jesus is through his writings.
But with all that said John leaves us with a Jesus who died and was given a proper burial. It seems as if this is the end of the story. Did I mention that we are in Easter?