The Sixth Day – The Man

We approach the end of our Holy Week reflections on the new creation, focussing on Genesis 1: 24-31 and John 19: 1-16.

Opening Liturgy
And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds..."
And it was so.
God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds.
And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over every living creature..."
Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food."
And it was so.
God saw all that he had made,
and it was very good.
And there was evening, and there was morning
the sixth day.
Genesis 1:24-31 (ANIV)

Reading
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face. 
Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him." When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!" 
As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, "Crucify! Crucify!" 
But Pilate answered, "You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him."
The Jews insisted, "We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God." 
When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. "Where do you come from?" he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. "Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don't you realise I have power either to free you or to crucify you?" 
Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." 
From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar." 
When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge's seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour. "Here is your king," Pilate said to the Jews. 
But they shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!" 
"Shall I crucify your king?" Pilate asked. 
"We have no king but Caesar," the chief priests answered. 
Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
John 19:1-16 (ANIV)

Reflection
“Here is the man,” the Governor announced, as Jesus staggered out onto the balcony… He was decked out in a fine purple robe and a crown of thorns jammed on his head… “Here is the man…”
Man – God’s last word when he made the world… the crown of his creation, reduced to this – a cruel, baying mob, mocking an innocent man… A week before people had been shouting his name and praising God – calling for him to be crowned King…
And here was another crowd at this mockery of a coronation… calling for him to be raised up, not on a royal throne… but a criminal’s cross… “We have no King but Caesar – Crucify him!”
And I kept quiet…
But I was in good company… because God kept quiet too… God who could bring all of creation into being by his word of command, didn’t say anything to save the one who claimed to be his son…
They took him to the place of execution, followed by a crowd… some weeping but many mocking… He was stripped naked, nailed to a crosspiece and hauled aloft, so everyone could see his humiliation and shame…
“It is finished” were his last words…
And I felt that it was… not just his life, his ministry and all the hopes that he had raised… but something more…
Here was the man – the greatest of all men – God’s last word…
And now all was silent…

Poem
The creator stands condemned
Crowned with cruelty
“Crucify him!
Take him away!
We have no king but Caesar!”
The creator stands in for the creature
The crown of his creation
Crucified
Taking away our sin
We have no hope but him.

Prayer
May we go into this day, knowing that we are a new creation, children of God, to carry our cross, in the footsteps of our crucified saviour,  Jesus Christ. AMEN

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