Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Bad Guys

I've had extra time to think of the people around Christ during his ministry as I've prepared myself to sing The Lamb Of God by Rob Gardner.  Two people have stood out to me.

First is Pontius Pilate.  A man who has grown up with a polytheistic religion.  Many of the Romans and other polytheistic cultures held a belief not just in their own gods but those of other peoples.   In fact some believed that conquering a people meant that one's gods where stronger than that of the conquered ones.  The Roman gods had passions and consorted at times with men.  Had demi god children with mortals.  Jesus would not have been unknown to Pilate before he was brought to be examined for blasphemy and to be sentenced to death.  Pilate as governer would have likely learned some of the religious ideals of the peopke he governed.  Knowing of Jesus and his miracles and knowing what he likely knew of this conquered people's religion Pilate may well have believed that Jesus was the son of the Jewish God.  The prophesied King of the Jews.  He couldn't see why the people turned against him.  Of course, he couldn't lose control of his governship.  Did not want riots.  Id they were going to murder the King who was he to stop them.  In fact it would simply prove the superiority of Rome over Israel.  When he allowed the mocking, the crown of thorns, and finally the sign posted declaring Jesus as King.  He was mocking the Jews themselves not Jesus.

Second person is Judas.  Notice first how close Judas is to Judah.  Judas Iscariot represents the Jewish people and confusion about the messiah that they were waiting for.  Once again we think that Judas taking the price of a slave to betray Jesus as a sign of how little he thought of Jesus.  It's the opposite.  As the passover came closer,  the desire for a miracle that would throw off the yoke of the Roman oppressors became more and more of a desire among the people who believed in Jesus and his place as Messiah.  Judas saw his passivity and mercy and worried that unless forced that Jesus would never become the warrior Messiah that Judas knew he could be.  He thought he knew better.  If he didn't take some bribe he knew his betrayal wouldn't be believed by the Pharisees.  But if they caught Jesus.  Then Jesus would HAVE to use his power to save himself.  People would see it.  It might even be enpugh to simply rally the Jews to fight off Rome and Jesus would not let them be slaughtered certainly.  If Judas had truly been evil he would not have bothered to kill himself.  He would have taken his money and ran.  He stayed and waited foe his brilliant plan to come together.  The one where he tried to force God's hand.  But when he saw what happened,  that he had been party to the destruction of the Messiah, he broke.  He had no way to understand or deal with what he'd done. Judas represented the fact that the Jews waited for the fighting Messiah of the second coming not the redeemer of the first.  It's why the people could praise him on Palm Sunday and cry for his crucifixion only days later.