A guest reflection by Megan Smith*
Readings for March 28, 2021
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24
This week, we are called to witness again as Jesus is mocked, beaten, and crucified not only for our sins, but because of them. We may not all be malicious sinners, directly doing the beating or mocking or crucifying ourselves, but we are all watching as it happens. We are all aware that it is happening. And without direct and intentional action, we are all Judas, Peter, and Pilate. And though it truly saddens my heart, some of us are also the beaters and the mockers and the killers as well.
I do not say this out of judgement or condemnation. I know there are many religious scholars that state that these three were predestined to fill these roles, and even so, I know that I am equally sinful. I say this because I think that the roles that Judas, Peter, and Pilate played in the story of the Passion serve anecdotally to teach important lessons about our sinful tendencies as humans, and because I feel that they are important to address.
To me, there is little difference in the mocking and beating and crucifixion of Jesus, and the mocking and beating and killing of fellow human beings that we see all over the news today. As Jesus himself has said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25:45).
If I choose my own personal gain and the benefits that I receive from the prejudicial systems which plague our society, if I choose to stay silent in the face of a system that is not only not hurting me, but directly benefiting me, then I have not learned from the selfishness of Judas.
If I see that there is backlash against those who speak out against hatred in any of its forms and I choose to lay low or bite my tongue to avoid the backlash instead of using my own voice to uplift the voice of the lowly and those who are being victimized and hurt and oppressed, then I have not learned from the fear of Peter.
And if I know what is right, if I know that politics are clouding issues of humanity, and I know in my heart that targeted hatred is here in America, and it is killing people every day—in forms such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia—and I know that it isn’t right, and I know that we need serious and major changes to be made in our society so that people don’t die unjustly, but I still choose not to act, not to vote, not to protest, not to rally, not to support, not to speak out and say what I think is right, but to leave the decision and the action and the responsibility in other people’s hands, then I have not learned from the placation of Pilate.
So here is my voice: I think that we are all very aware that these cruelties are happening throughout the world, but especially highlighted by recent news here in America. We have seen the harm done to Asian Americans, to African Americans, to women, and truly to all who are outside of whatever group is in power. Every day. And we know. We know these are not isolated incidents. And we know they will not stop on their own. And we know, as Christians, with love and compassion filling our hearts, that nothing about this is right. Violence, especially violence against the powerless, is never right. And if we continue to profit off of this system of hate, to deny its existence or our responsibility to assist, or we leave it for others to handle, in all of these circumstances, we have directly failed Jesus. More so, we have, in fact, crucified him again.
So let’s band together, speak out, and say loudly in faith that this is not okay, and that we will take responsibility and be a part of the change that is so desperately and clearly needed. The world needs the love of Christ now more than ever. The world needs Jesus. So let’s choose him over all else.
Lord, guide my heart towards compassionate courage. Help me to stand for love, and to not stand complicit in hatred or cruelty. Help me to choose the difficult path, to not abandon my brothers and sisters, and to not abandon you.
*Megan Smith is editor, creator and Web designer for Reflections from the Pew.