The pain of a Redeemer-figure! He was the first patriot who saw the interplay of state and religion and wept for his people. It was not the conspiracy of the political hawks, but the ridicule of the primary beneficiaries of his miracles that pained him most.
We are lucky Jesus died for us; but we are guilty because He died in our midst with a sigh.
Cross more than a symbol of his love stands eternally as an indictment of all who prefer power, position, and/or possession to truth. As long as there will always be Pilate and Ananias and Caiaphas and Judas Isacariot and gullible crowd, the passion narrative of Christ will always be replayed in our daily lives.
In that historical scandal called Good Friday, real sinners condemned an imagery sinner for sinning differently. The guilt was set free and the innocent condemned. So it came to be that it is only in Christianity that the Redeemer-figure died for the people unlike in other religions where people die for their gods.
The passion narrative of Jesus as presented by the evangelists is a drama where everyone is a character. His humiliation is a mirror where everyone looks at and understands the gravity of one’s guilt.
Jesus’ earthly life is an comprehensive litany of sorrows which started from nativity. At birth, there was no inn to take Him and animals accommodated Him. He was the youngest refugee to have sought asylum in Egypt. Armed only with truth and love, he set out to battle establishments and took side with the poor. He formed apostolic party dominated by men of lowest-profile called from different peripheries of lives. He moved around as a poor itinerant preacher with no domicile. His passion for the outcast was a-never-seen.
He loved sinners, dinned and wined with the outcast- prostitutes, adulterers, publicans and tax collectors. In a society with no regard for women, he trusted women so much that it was only when a woman touched Him that He complained that power had gone out of Him.
By crushing religious stereotypes that had for ages denied love to people, He broke the laws of purity and provoked the suspicion and hostility of the Pharisees and the elders. He sought economic and political liberation for His people but He never allowed socio-economic liberation to take the place of worship. He never turned pulpit into platform nor converted the gospel into a national anthem. He encouraged His disciples even to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. He insisted before Pilate and in Gethsemane that His kingdom was not of this world.
Yet, He was seen by power hawks of his time as a political nuisance. When they could no longer put up with Him, the high priests connived and manipulated willing hands to cheer up their evil plans. He was betrayed by His finance minister, denied by His ADC and deserted by his lieutenants. He was branded a criminal and condemned to die in kangaroo trial.
He was forced to walk the rugged Calvary way. He was given a gift of Cross to Golgotha. He had three accidents but He was at each stage whipped up to strength. The cross became heavier when he recalled the gravity of abandonment, denial of love in the midst of people He poured out Himself to liberate. It was only women of Jerusalem and one Simeon under duress who showed Him pity.
On Calvary, they crucified him in between two notorious bandits and allowed Him to die slowly with uninterrupted public ridicule. He was mocked by a bandit, tormentors and passers-by.
Locked up from every possible escape, He shared His property. He gave His clothes to the soldiers, His mother to John and His beloved servant to His mother. He gave His body to the cross for the love of all. When He requested for water, He was given soured vinegar. He prayed for God’s forgiveness on all who had hands in His death.
When He was truly exhausted and could no longer endure the pains, He heaved mighty sound: “Es ist vollbracht -It is finished! Õgwusigo!” Turning his bruised head rightwards, HE DIED WITH A SIGH in a lonely garden.
For the Sake of your Sorrowful Passion, oh Lord, have Mercy on us and the whole World!
(c) Felix Uche Akam 30.03.2018
Dedicated to Christians on Good Friday!