Today, I am reading and commenting on John 19-21.
Near the end of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, Pilate tried to find a reason to release Jesus (if for no other reason than that he did not like being used by the Jewish leaders to get rid of their enemies). As part of that he asked Jesus if He understood that Pilate had the power to either have Him crucified or released. Jesus’ answer applies to us as well. Pilate only had power over Jesus because it was given to him from God. The same is true for us, government authorities, or anyone else, will only have power over us in as much as God has given it to them. Then, in a final attempt to get out of sending Jesus to be crucified, Pilate asks the priests if he should crucify their king. Historically we know that the priests had been vehement about defending their symbolic independence from Rome (they had no actual independence, but they tried to pretend that the Roman authorities needed their cooperation), crucifying their king ran counter to that. Their response goes even further, becoming a rejection of God. When the priests stated that they had no king but Caesar they were denying God’s kingship over themselves. Today, many Christians do something similar when they rely on the government to do things which Jesus said were the job of the Church.
I know that I can credit Don Francisco for this, but every time I read John’s account of the empty tomb through Peter’s profession of love I get choked up. That song allows me to feel the strong, confused emotions the disciples would have felt that morning. First, grief and fear, followed by a forlorn hope, and finally joy beyond their ability to express. I want to note that once again it is a woman who is first to see the risen Jesus and feel the joy which came with the realization. Then we have the story of Thomas. I think Thomas is the disciple with whom I most identify (both from here and other places he appears in the Gospels). When the other disciples told him they had seen Jesus he was not willing to believe. I think that is because he did not want to have his hopes smashed one more time. He was afraid the other disciples were believing an hallucination. He wanted to be sure that his desire to believe did not lead him to do the sames. Finally, when Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, you can just see how Peter is feeling, “Because I denied Him those three times when He needed support the most, Jesus won’t believe that I love Him now. He will never trust me again.” Yet, after the third time, Jesus makes it clear that these three professions of love were for Peter for him to profess his love once for each time he denied Jesus. The final thing is that after that third time Jesus tells Peter that the next time he is called to risk all for Jesus he will rise to the challenge.