Logic says that we are to trust our religious leaders more than we trust our politicians and bureaucrats, and as I look at it my feeling is that such a statement has to be true. However, as I prepare to preach this coming Easter weekend, I find at least one occasion in which things went awfully wrong, with terrible consequences.
Herod was such an imbecile that all he could do was to feel relieved that the man who had been heralded as the king of the Jews was now before him as no more than a beaten, bleeding, well guarded prisoner whom he could mock and abuse at will... but nothing else; he couldn´t care less. He had no reason whatsoever to worry about him.
Pilate was far closer to justice and righteousness... (not quite there, mind you, just closer). He even had a conscience to nag him (and a wise wife too!) but those two advantages were not enough against his political instincts, and his morals and his sense of justice had to take a back seat against his need for political survival.
It was the religious leaders though, who said at the Sanhedrin that Jesus had to die; it was them who despaired at Pilate´s undecisiveness, and it was them who worked up the mob to demand Barabbas liberation and Jesus´crucifixion. What strikes me and even sends shudders up my spine is to realise that once they were talked into a killing frenzy by the religious leaders, based upon religious reasons, the crowd did two terrible things that could be reasonably seen as a metaphor of our civilization´s current cultural and phylosphical suicide.
First, facing a specific choice between light and darkness, they went for the latter. It was Deuteronomy 30:19 all over again, and they chose death, violence, unrighteousness, evil, and everything that Barabbas represented, and they did it consciously, with their eyes wide open. They not only chose all that Barabbas represented; they fully embraced it, to the point of rubricating the election with the decision of murdering the innocent man who represented the complete opposite.
The second act is even more ominous and dark. Challenged by Pilate for the injustice of choosing an innocent to be executed, their cry is mind blowing: "His blood be on us and on our children!" Now, willingly embracing darkness and evil is one thing; topping it up with murderous hatred at the expense of your very soul is a further step into insanity, but needlessly and wantonly calling a curse upon your own children... I can imagine those people, red-eyed, fists clenched, mouths foaming... posessed.
I said above I can see this as a metaphor, because it reminds me of today´s more and more belligerent opposition to all that Christ and his church represent. Certainly the Christian church has made many mistakes along the ages, some of them monumental and we have to enter into deep and serious exchanges with out culture and society, and acknowledge what is necessary and even apologize if needed... that´s not the point... it could even prove a healthy exercise. However, most of the resistance and rejection of the Gospel comes as a hostile attempt to eradicate it from the streets, from schools, from any and all level of government, from minds, from souls, from everything and everywhere. People want freedom to embrace evil without the uncomfortable presence of Christ and Christians around... a newer version of "Give us Barabbas ...and crucify Him".
However, in order to achieve a God-free society, you need a generation of adults consciously willing to sacrifice a whole generation of children to ensure that all that Christ brings to humankind disappears. Let them ignore the difference between good and evil; let them do whatever their (sinful) heart desires, let them listen to a thousand voices and become incapable to discern any trace of truth in them... let them forget truth exists altogether! Let us kill as many unborn babies as possible and rejoice in that freedom; let us invent ways to use people and throw them away when we get bored of them, and let the children that may have been born within that arrangement fend for themselves. Let us teach our children that everything is OK, that all that matters is your own will... "His blood be on us and on our children".
Then comes the incredible horror of the cross, and the complete unknown of the tomb... but the very last word is Jesus´triumphant resurrection and his taking his righteous place at his Father´s side in glory... and that is and will be the final touching point of the metaphor, whatever and however long it takes to get there.