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A surprising truth

"I gave my back to those who strike me and my cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover my face from humiliation and spitting." Isaiah 50. 6

There is a tendency to view the events of "Holy Week" as a tragic end to a promising career: casting Jesus as innocent victim, deprived of his chance to achieve so much more. When Pilate gave Jesus over to be crucified, he must have thought he had settled the matter. The Jewish authorities, who so despised Jesus, must have believed they had re-gained the upper hand.

But the text above, from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, points towards a very different interpretation. Far from being helpless, Jesus appears to have been stoically following his Father's will that he fulfil all prophecies relating to the Messiah, including and especially offering up his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. In this, Jesus was successful, as the events of Easter culminating in his resurrection will confirm. But the effectiveness of Jesus' action is not to be measured only in what he accomplished but also in what it revealed - in terms of the wickedness of human behaviour.

The fact that, despite appearances, Jesus knew what he was doing and remained in control throughout does not excuse or deny the guilt of those who treated him so outrageously. Before we ourselves rush to judgment, we need to remember that it was our sin too which drove Jesus to the cross.

How, then, should we respond? Three things for sure:

1. Praise him for what he did and who he is

2. Confess our sin and receive his forgiveness

3. Reconcile with one another and tread more lightly on the earth.

But, for starters, let's just stand in awe...

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