During my preparations for Holy Week and the various services and devotions that we have planned as a congregation, I was struck again and again by how many groups of people were involved in the last week of Christ’s Life.

After His Triumphant Entry on Palm Sunday, Jesus started to lose friends and support quite quickly. We know that because His Time was almost at an end, He spoke quite directly to those who were listening and is not seen to once say those words that marked His early ministry, “Go, and make sure that you tell nobody what you have seen.”

His ministry in Jerusalem was marked by confrontation after confrontation with those who were looking for a reason to accuse Him and kill Him. It was almost as if the battle between the Light of the World and all of the darkness on earth became so acute that it could only end in one way … victory or defeat for one side. The darkness that covered Jerusalem on the day of His Crucifixion is quite telling when we consider how much darkness was in the hearts of the men and woman during His Time among us and in the times before and after His Death.

As I considered the passages relevant to the Crucifixion, I understood the meaning of “the more things change, the more they stay the same”.

Power, and all that comes with it, seemed to occupy the minds of all those associated with Jesus in one way or another. Those who held on to power or indeed wanted power, would do literally anything to grab hold of it. No longer was it a matter of God making men and woman who they are, or kingdoms and nations what they are … it was a time of ruthless ambition and a thirst for power that would not be satisfied.
This caused most souls to reveal themselves in a most dramatic way just as the ring of power had consumed and destroyed Gollum in Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”. Power was “Precious” and had to be had at all costs, even if it meant the death of an innocent man. The plotting and scheming involved even one of Christ’s very own disciples, somebody we would have thought would have been immune to the evil that reached out all over Jerusalem and sought to consume the hearts of all men and woman. Lies, deceit, manipulation, hatred and even murder were entertained and given a home to flourish during that final week of our Lord’s Life.

Today we feel so far removed from the story and feel almost sanitized by this distance and remoteness contained in the Gospel accounts and yet I am convinced that this thing which is “Precious” remains with us all. We may feel that our desires and our covetousness and corruption are but small things when compared to that of our Government who seem to trample on the very people that they profess to represent but dear friends, it is the same fruit from the same tree. If we can manage a bit of corruption here and a bit of looking the other way there … we are well on our way to receiving the same judgement as those who broke into the Helen Suzman Foundation to steal and try and destroy that which would condemn them.

We will all stand before our Lord Jesus Christ one day and give an account for what we have done with our salvation that was purchased with such a great price on Calvary’s tree. I know it lurks within me and I know that sometimes I entertain it in my thoughts but I pray, that through the Grace given me by our Lord Jesus, that it will never have a chance to actually sprout and grow up until the point where it delivers its poisonous fruit of indifference, deceit and death.

I trust that as you read this friend and as you travel with me until the end of this Holy Week, that you too will allow God to look deep into your heart and to show you what is there.

May we all live secure in the knowledge of His Love and Grace but also in the knowledge of His Justice and Judgements. Amen.

MARK