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Other Voices: Good Friday time to recall Christ’s history

The dark shadow of the crucifixion falls again today, wherever men have become aware of the gentle teachings of Christ.

More than 2,000 years ago, a Galilean, stumbling with pain, wan with cruel sweat, walked to Calvary to die between two thieves.

Mindful or unmindful of who this was, his chosen people now held him captive. The ambitious, self-righteous high priests and politicians were not about to allow this man’s popularity to overwhelm nor usurp them from the power and the high office they enjoyed.



His followers, many of whom had expected or hoped that the kingdom he preached was an earthly one of the man’s design, had forgotten that he said his kingdom was not of this world.

Pilate, however, found the Galilean innocent of the charges filed against him, but mindful of the Jewish influence in Rome, washed his hands of the whole affair and so turned the prisoner over to his countrymen. Thus, the cross became inevitable.




It was this same gentle captive who, with infinite love for all mankind, traveled throughout the marketplaces of every village blind and giving all to whom he spoke a joyful purpose for their existence. He was now handed over in bondage by Centurians to be chained and scourged at a pillar.

He claimed to be a king – so mockery was in order – complete with crown and purple robe; the robe of a fool and a crown made of thorns. It was several hours before a Centurian’s sword was to lance his side, but already his heart had been pierced many times by hatred, stoic indifference, and the jealous ambitions of a populace.

He had said that he must expiate the sins of the world but when the twilight ended his agony, few seemed aware of the merits or significance of his sacrifice.

The beauty of death had vanquished the tortured lineaments of his last moments of life, and the women, wrapping what was precious to them in grave clothes, kept to their watch.

One of these women had been so great a sinner that her name became synonymous with sin. She was a Mary too – Mary Magdalene, and she, who had loved many men, in a crying atonement for her transgressions, had given at last, her heart to the Nazarene.

He had not looked upon it for the scars of misdoing. He had instead, turned on the woman’s traducers, who had stoned her for her lips and caresses, and he uttered words that still echo wherever charity’s voice, whether it is audible, makes itself heard: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

It was this Magdalene who, in the perfume of her hair, bathed and dried his feet which were to travel beyond all human journeyings. So as the shadows gathered, we see Magdalene alone, weeping in solitude over the one who really cared.

And down the way a few miles, the Roman procurator of Judea, Pilate, perhaps had begun to try to find the answer to the question that was to accompany him through eternity: “What is truth?”

Three days later, Christ’s tomb was found to be empty. He had triumphed over death. With this subsequent victory and resurrection, he once again appeared to his disciples in various places, fired them up with the strength of the Holy Spirit, and they went about teaching and living a code of life known as Christianity.

Notable among those who kept the faith and spread the word was a disciple named Paul who, in jail and out of jail, gathered to him in his master’s name, the poor and the humble, the Jew and the gentile alike.

Those who dip into history are aware of what happened hardly a hundred years after Paul had suffered for his persuasions. The Nazarene had conquered. The gods of Rome were in the dust. The fires that burned in the Colosseum had burned away the material religions that had set the flames.

He “went about doing good” and showed us the way, the truth, the resurrection, and the life that is ours – if we but follow and practice his admonitions.

And now once again, on this the dim anniversary of his anguish, the bells toll sadly for a sacrifice that he willingly gave to God his father for the salvation of mankind – offering the one victim of infinite price: Himself.

ooo

Jim Nieman lives in Cedar Ridge.


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