Anointed and Handed Over: Our Song is Love Unknown
Series: Holy Week
Speaker: The Rev'd Jim Quigley
After the consultation they bound him and handed him over. It’s nice when someone else does the dirty work. Are you the King of the Jews? Pilate asks. Jesus obfuscates. Then they accused him of many things, rebel, liar, and insurrectionist, worst of all, blasphemer. There was also the charge that he claimed to be King, or messiah, the anointed one. Pilate could probably smell the nard in his hair. “Uh, do ya see this rap sheet, son? Have you no answer? Jesus stands silent and Pilate is amazed. He marveled, actually. In Greek the word in Mark’s text means to admire, in a way. It’s as if Pilate he was getting a kick out of it all, like a cat kicking around a mouse, marveling at its powerlessness.
There was still one option left. That strange custom where just before the mass hangings Pilate would let one go. When the crowds came to see whom Pilate would release, if you read the text closely, apparently they didn’t have anyone particular in mind. “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews,” Pilate asks? I can imagine seeing their faces. Who, what? I dunno… Eeny, meeny, miny, moe? But then the crowd got stirred up.
The Gospel’s claim is that it was the chief priests that stirred them up but I don’t suppose it matters. Thy de-individuated. That’s a psychological process where we stop thinking for ourselves and engage in behaviors and actions we would not typically engage in if we were alone; when we are less likely to follow normal restraints and inhibitions. In the crowd of de-individuation no one is responsible; all are innocent. No one is in violation because all are anonymous. As our Lenten teacher Miroslav Volf reminded us just a couple of weeks ago, once you say Deutschland Du Lan der you’re sucked in. It’s sickening, really, that mob mentality, and those that stir. I don’t think he really cared who he released, Pilate that is, but twice he tried to release the anointed one and each time they shouted all the more, crucify him, crucify him! And then they were satisfied. Somebody would die.
He came from His blest throne, salvation to bestow; but man made strange, and none the longed for Christ would know. But oh, our friend, our friend indeed, who at our need His life did spend. Sometimes we strew his way and sweet His praises sing, resounding all the way hosannas to our King. Then “Crucify!” is all our breath and for his death we thirst and cry.
Why, what hath our Lord done? What makes our rage and spite? He makes the lame to run, he gives the blind their sight. Sweet injuries! Yet we at these ourselves displease and ‘gainst him rise.
Our song is love unknown, our savior’s love to we; love to loveless shown, that we might lovely be. O who are we, that for our sake, our Lord should take fail flesh and die?