Kruiz edited
The Power of the Powerless
Friday of Lent 6
7 April 2017
How banal evil is! The crowd stationed in the Praetorium perhaps don't even know particularly why they howl for the death of this Man by crucifixion (Mk 15:1-15). Their leaders have paid them to be there, somewhat like George Soros pays our modern protesters. They are the temple functionaries and their dependents. They know what side of the bread the butter is on. Their livelihood is assured by the high priests, the elites of their place and time. When those high priests direct them to howl, howl they will. They want to see Pontius Pilate made a fool of, certainly. He is, after all, a Roman! And they didn't vote for him. They were "Never Romans."

But most of all they want to see the Galilean Rabbi taken out in a spectacular way. He had overturned not only the tables of the money changers in the Temple, but he overturned the comfortable "truths" upon which they all presumed. And they didn't like it.

Nobody likes change; especially religious change. This Rabbi represented the worst possible change, as far as they were concerned. He pointed to their piety and told them it was inadequate. He told them that their whole Temple worship was only a shadow pointing to Him! He didn't merely presume to tell them that they needed to be more holy; that they could have withstood.

He presumed to tell them that their holiness was filthy and could not be improved on by them. He told them that they had to repent and to believe in Him. Who could believe such a one as this One? Just look at him; easily arrested, bound, beaten, mocked, spit upon, and bloodied. No one even spoke in his defense at the trial before Pilate. Every accusation went unanswered. Apparently unable to defend Himself against their mob, the Roman troops, the Procurator Pilate, and their own priests, who was He to demand their repentance and their confidence? How many troops did He bring to the game? What power could this powerless man exert? None. None at all.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo
"'Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour' (Jn 4:6). Now begin the mysteries. For it is not without a purpose that Jesus is weary; not indeed without a purpose that the strength of God is weary; not without a purpose that He is weary, by whom the wearied are refreshed; not without a purpose is He weary, by whose absence we are wearied, by whose presence we are strengthened. Nevertheless, Jesus is weary, and weary with His journey; and He sits down near a well; and it is at the sixth hour, being wearied, that He sits down. All these things hint at something, are intended to intimate something. They make us eager and encourage us to knock. May He Himself open to us and to you! He who has deigned to exhort us, by saying, 'Knock, and it shall be opened to you' (Lk 11:10).

"It was for you that Jesus was wearied with His journey. We find Jesus to be strong, and we find Jesus to be weak. We find a strong and a weak Jesus; strong, because 'in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.' (Jn 1:1-2). Do you want to see how strong this Son of God is? 'All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made' (Jn 1:3). And without labor, too, were they made! Then what could be stronger than He, by whom all things were made without labor? Do you want to know Him weak? 'The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us' (Jn 1:14). The strength of Christ created you, the weakness of Christ created you anew. The strength of Christ caused to be that which was not. The weakness of Christ caused that which was, not to perish. He fashioned us by His strength, He sought us by His weakness."

Augustine of Hippo, Tractates on the Gospel of John, 15.6
Mark 15:1-15

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" And he answered him, "You have said so." And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, "Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you." But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, "Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?" And they cried out again, "Crucify him." And Pilate said to them, "Why? What evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Crucify him." So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Lord Christ, Your strength created me. Your weakness recreated me in the font of life. Your strength caused to be that which was not. Your weakness caused that which was, not to perish. You fashioned me by Your strength, and sought me by Your weakness. Free me from the offense of Your weakness that I might see all your weakness as the very strength of my salvation in You, the suffering Servant; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

For the President and Congress of the United States, that they might provide the conditions in which there is freedom and a flourishing of human goods

For George Papas, as he settles into a new home, that the Lord Jesus would grant him peace and repose

For David Nolting, that the Lord Jesus would grant him strength and confidence in God's care
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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