Matthew 27:11-54, Palm/Passion A, April 13, 2014
Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Time and time again, our media turns on celebrities. Especially child stars like Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Lindsay Lohan. They become famous when they are young and innocent, yet our nation’s media cannot wait until they fall from grace. Each of these stars has turned away from innocent stardom to try out overt sexism, breaking the law, and illegal drugs. In some ways, the media and - we as well - enjoy when they turn bad.
These young people face immense pressure from everywhere they turn. Their work requires intense focus and long hours. They have dedicated themselves to their craft before they may have even known what is all involved. Then, when they leave their recording studios, they are hounded by the paparazzi and other media. They are constantly invited to rowdy parties where they are exposed to all sorts of illegal activities. With so many pressures and power-hungry people around them, it is no wonder that they have fallen from grace.
In a different way, the people in our government are power-hungry as well. Both parties want control over the houses and senates where they serve, and they want control over their people too. Some of the elected leaders - of state governments in particular - have decided that they need to have control over women’s bodies. Dubbed the “War on Women,” men have been trying to turn back time by overhauling any social progress that was made in the past forty years.
By reducing access to women's clinics, some women's health will suffer. With the gender pay gap, women are still not earning as much as men in equal jobs.
The media and the government are only two examples of how selfish our nation is. They show us how self-serving, power-hungry, and destructive we are. Why do we enjoy other people’s pain so much? Why are we so bloodthirsty? Why do we want to control everything and everyone?
These examples show us how our society has not changed a bit since the time of Jesus. We see this in how the Roman government, the Jewish leaders, and the crowds are described in Matthew. As we read the passion narrative, we became the Jewish leaders and the crowds. We stepped into their places and surprised ourselves how we so willingly and defiantly proclaimed, “Let him be crucified.”
Truly, we did kill Jesus. Over and over again. Every year, we shout out, “Crucify him!” Every year, we don’t just hear this story, but we participate in it. We are no better than the Romans who beat and mocked Jesus. We are no better than the Jewish leaders who could not fathom that this Jesus truly could be God’s son. We are no better than the crowds who blindly followed whoever spoke the loudest.
Every year, we are just as much in need of a savior as the year before. Jesus died at the hands of aggressive people just like us. As one scholar noted, “The world could not tolerate the presence of the Savior.” (Sermon Brainwave #347) Jesus, God incarnate, walked among us, teaching, preaching, and healing. Yet somehow all the good that he did made us feel uncomfortable. In the end, we mocked Jesus, thinking that we had won. How wrong we were.
Thank God Jesus’ story isn’t over yet. Amen.