The death of Jesus was shocking but it was not surprising. Jesus himself told us it was coming. How did he know? No, he didn’t need a heavenly angel to tell him — it was just common sense. Put simply: everything he said and did challenged the status quo and threatened those with a vested interest in it.
Jesus is crucified in Mark 15 but as early as Mark 3 people have started plotting his death — all because he healed someone with a withered hand in the Synagogue and on the Sabbath. Why did they want to kill him? Because Jesus threatened the dominant religion that was based on “who is in and who is out”. A childish and dangerous distinction that Jesus kept turning on its head — basically saying that the only people who are “out” are those who think others are out. To live a life of radical inclusion in a world that is increasingly exclusive and divided is eventually going to draw fire.
Jesus also spoke out against the rich, comparing them to fat camels, and the rich have the greatest investment in the status quo. He ‘occupied’ the temple reclaiming it as a place for “all” cleansing it from exploitation. He also mocked the blue-light-rulers of his day arriving on his donkey and spoke persuasively about a tax system that honoured God’s image above Caesar’s.
Now you don’t do all these things and live to tell the tale — well he does — but not before he has been killed.
Jesus’ death was shocking but it was not surprising.
We honour his death by imitating his life and not by singing hymns about his death. We gather here this morning not so much to worship Jesus but to be reminded that we must worship him — and we do this best by imitating him in and through every aspect of our living. Now I know it is shocking but don’t be surprised when we too are rejected, pierced and crucified — for “disciples are above their master”.