In the Holy Week account in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, three questions vital o all of us were asked by participants in the Passion. Let us consider the three questions, their answers, and the reactions of the witnesses.
On Palm Sunday, as Jesus entered Jerusalem, whole city was stirred to its depths demanding to know, ” Who is this?”the crowd that accompanied Jesus kept answering the bystanders, ” this is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee, ” The first vital question was one of identity, and the response was correct and factual -just the name and address. Those who accompanied Jesus in the procession were cautious and non-committal. Many of them knew that Jesus was marked for death, and nobody went out on a limb for him.
On Holy Thursday night, at the religious trial our Lord’s arrest in the garden, Caiphas the high priest asked the second vital question, “I order to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus answers, “You have said so” sounds to us like only a half affirmative answer, but the Sanhedrin understood it, ” He has blasphemed! …..you have now heard the blasphemy, what is your opinion?..,, He deserves to die!”the reaction of the Sanhedrin is blind, jealous, full of hate. Jesus is disowned by the leaders of his own religion.
On Good Friday morning, at the civil trial before Pilate, the Roman official asks the third vital question,”Are you the King of the Jews?” For the second time, Jesus’ answer is half- confirmatory, is effect he says to Pilate, ” you have answered your own question, ” the reaction to his exchange is that the Romans and the Jewish leaders treat Jesus with sarcasm and ridicule. They spit on him, robe him in purple, and in mockery crowd him with thorns. They genuflect before him. They treat him like o fool or a clown. Three questions asked, three answers given. One reaction is non- committal, another is blind religious hatred, the third is political mockery.
Then the Good Friday, around mid afternoon in the darkness and terror that accompanied an earthquake, the pagan centurion, who was in charge of the detail of soldiers who crucified Jesus, made this statement:” Clearly, this was the Son of God ! ” We believe about Jesus of Nazareth what the Roman centurion confess on Calvary that awful Friday afternoon – that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. This belief underlies the way we live, think, and act. This week is a week of reflection, prayer, and grace for us as we re-live in word, ritual, and Sacrament here in the sanctuary, the great events of our redemption. Make every effort to be here this week to confess Jesus of Nazareth, messiah, and Lord !
HAVE A BLESSED HOLY WEEK !
Your brother in Christ