The great preacher William Sloane Coffin once said, “On Good Friday we crucified Jesus, the best among us, because we had crucified the best within us, and did not want to be reminded of it…”
Now there were probably many reasons why Jesus was crucified, but the reason that William Sloane Coffin highlights is the one I want to invite us to reflect on.
Isn’t it true that when we are reminded of something within us that we have ourselves forsaken or betrayed we are prone to respond with defensive denial and sometimes even vicious anger? When we betray something we hold dear within us there is a strong temptation to begin to see the world, others and ourselves in a way that justifies our self-betrayal as it becomes too painful for us to face and admit to. One way to stop the pain is to get rid of that which is reminding us of our self-betrayal.
Jesus reminded the religious class of his day what true religion is meant to be about—namely, loving God and neighbour—which had long been forsaken but not quite forgotten—so to eradicate the memory altogether they called for his blood. Jesus reminded the ordinary people of his day that they were born free and equal and should therefore live free despite the political persecution from those in power—but they were locked in fear—so they too called for his life.
The question is what have we betrayed and forsaken in our own lives that is sometimes revealed to us by others? Do we call for their blood? Or label them and refuse to engage with them—a form of relationship crucifixion?! Alan