“Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ asked Pilate. ‘You have said so,’ Jesus replied. The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.’ But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.” – Mark 15:1-5
Sunday past, we celebrated Palm Sunday, which commemorates the triumphant entry of our Lord, Jesus, into Jerusalem. Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. This is the seven days that leads to Easter Sunday. Holy Week ends on Holy Saturday. This week also ends the Lenten season.
During this week, we Christians will again sit in the upper room with Christ, as we read in the gospels his final words and prayers for his disciples and receiving his body and blood in the bread and wine.
Today, we celebrate Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday. Tonight, many Christians around the world will assemble around the Lord’s Table to celebrate the Eucharist. It was on the Thursday before Easter that our Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper.
He and his disciples met in the upper room. According to the gospel of John, our Lord took a basin of water and washed the feet of his disciples.
He, their teacher, and savior, was not too proud to wash their feet. In doing this, he demonstrated that we in the church are called to serve, not to be served.
This was the night before our Lord’s betrayal and arrest. As we celebrate, we will go to Gethsemane and hear Christ’s anguished prayers and witness the betrayal. We will be present at the trial before Caiaphas, where Christ is mocked and condemned.
The religious authorities arrested Jesus at night. They first took him to the private home of Caiaphas, the priest. He stood before the high priest, the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, accused.
This was illegal because trials were to be held in public places, in daylight, where witnesses could be found. Yet, they tried him under the cloak of darkness.
The religious leaders arrested and tried Jesus at night because they were afraid of the people. Had they arrested him during daylight, they might have caused an uproar and a riot. Consequently, they held an illegal trial and manufactured charges against him and produced false witnesses to support those charges.
Unfortunately, the religious leaders were not interested in justice. They wanted to be rid of Jesus, therefore, they circumvented the law, which they held so sacred.
Because of the trial on Thursday night, tomorrow, which is Good Friday, we will come before Pilate and see the king of the Jews sentenced to death. And then, we will see him make the long and painful journey to Golgotha Hill to die on the cross.
This king, who came in a most unusual way, in a somewhat embarrassing way, riding a donkey, triumphantly entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He was hailed as the Lord’s Messiah.
Days later, the same people, whom he had come to save, rejected him. They sought his crucifixion.
The Jewish leaders took Jesus before Pontius Pilate and accused him of claiming to be king of the Jews. They treated him with contempt, as a common criminal. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone: 426-9084; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.