Jesus underwent a legal trial – but it was all a sham since the outcome had already been determined by the leadership of the people – “better for one man to die . . .”
There are times in life when the processes we rely on to protect fail to do so. This is hard to stomach in a society that is alleged built on a core value like “the rule of law.” But no process is perfect. This is especially so in our personal lives and relationships. No matter how we build up our defenses (social or personal), we will always be subjected to others who are more concerned with self-seeking, face-saving, and power tripping. In the story of Jesus passion, he is subject to these same dynamics – people who should be protecting him from the Romans, who should be seeing in him their own aspirations instead see in him a threat to their own coziness with the powers that be. In the face of all this, Jesus makes little or no defense. Maybe he realizes that no matter how hard he would try, he would not succeed. Instead, he remains silent even before the powers that had the capacity to put him to death. However, I don’t believe that Jesus simply gave up. I see Jesus as adamantly refusing to stop to their level – to play their games. Instead, he acts to remain true to who he is – and the mission for which he was sent.
Wisdom can be seen as making peace with the unchangeable. We have the freedom to face the unavoidable with dignity, to understand how our attitudes can transform even deep suffering. The great psychologist Viktor Frankl maintained that in World War II concentration camps, what remained for the victims was “the last of human freedoms”—the ability to choose one’s attitude in a particular set of circumstances. What Frankl was asking for was not for people to be merely optimistic but to hold onto hope, even when the situation seemed hopeless. Are we responsible for our suffering when we did not do anything to cause it? Simply, no. And yes. We are not responsible for our predicament – whether it is cancer or the loss of our job or the death of someone dear. But we are responsible for what we do with the effects of these things, for what we build from what remains after fate has made a mess of our lives.
n Read Matthew 26:57-75