By Sunday Ogidigbo
The central theme of all the stories and prophesies of the Bible is related to the birth, death, burial, resurrection, ascension and second coming of Christ, the Lord and Saviour of all mankind. God in His wisdom and power works all things after the counsel of His will. Everything must align with His will for mankind, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone. The story of Jesus divides history into two: the days before and the days after Christ. Even the calendar is a constant reminder of what Jesus did for all mankind.
Traditionally, the story of Easter is one that reminds us of the selfless sacrifice of Jesus Christ as He endured insults, mockery, torture, shame and the painful death on the cross. We are also reminded that Jesus keeps His words; when He said He would die, He did. He said He will rise again from the dead after three days and nights, and He did. He said He is coming again, so He will. We are reminded that the cross is the place of everlasting sacrifice that settles the debt of sin man cannot pay. We are reminded that it was a tree in the Garden of Eden that brought the sin that released death on the earth, but the tree erected at Calvary destroyed the power of sin and by extension death. We are reminded that the cross symbolises the positive sign of acceptance with God in everyone that believes. We are also reminded that the blood of Jesus washes white as snow. These reminders are true and should always take the front row in the story of Easter.
However, one thing that is typically ignored is the ignoble and glorious roles politicians played in the crucifixion of Jesus outside the ancient gates of Jerusalem – the city of the risen King. The politicians fall into two categories: the majority on the side of dishonour and the noble ones who were only two in number. These politicians were led by the Senate of the people called “The Sanhedrin,” a 70-man council of elders and representatives of the 70 political divisions of the nation of Israel appointed by Rome. They were the ones that reached the resolution that Jesus must be killed because His popularity and acceptance with the people was one that the political establishment became wary and envious of. They feared if Jesus was not killed, the people could make him king and this could not only threaten their political position but pitch the nation against the then world superpower, Rome.
The Sanhedrin, in which the High Priest was a leading member, hired lawyers and false witnesses to see how they could get Jesus to err in words and in actions. They tried to see if He would speak against Caesar in the area of taxation, or if He himself will not pay taxes. When they did not succeed, they came up with trumped up charges and allegations, all in the bid to stop Him by killing Him. Clearly, it is not today politicians started calling a dog a bad name so that they can hang it. The only thing they had against him was that he called Himself the son of God. Fearing the people will turn against them they wanted to summarily execute him by stoning for blasphemy like they did to Stephen, instead they handed him over to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate and told him that Jesus called himself the King of the Jews – meaning this fellow is parading himself as King instead of Caesar. When the governor sensed they were charging Him for treason out of jealousy, he became sympathetic; but the politicians blackmailed Pilate by telling him if he does not kill Jesus, he is not a friend of Caesar. With politicians, the truth can be sacrificed on the altar of friendship and shallow sentiments. As bad and self-seeking as the council was, Joseph of Arimathea stood out as a man of honour. His lone vote and voice could not save Jesus from death, but his actions afterwards of asking for the body of Jesus and lending him his tomb preserved the body of Christ from being desecrated. He risked his political capital to give Jesus a decent burial.
The lessons that Easter holds first teaches us to emulate the lifestyle of Jesus. Second, it teaches us that we the people must be mindful as we reflect on the story of Easter as the political class will always be self-seeking and self-serving. We must not be deceived by a political majority driven by greed, envy, and jealousy; and personal vendetta will always work against the general good of the people. They will do everything to destroy their perceived political opponents. We should not believe every news we read about politicians who are anti-establishment. The Church needs not fear any government or governor that is and wants to use the tools of government against the body of Christ, like Pontus Pilate. For the potentate that believes he has ascendancy against the church, thinking he can destroy her, will ultimately self-destruct. We are also to be instructed that not all politicians are pigs and dogs; we will always have senators like Joseph stand for the truth.
The biggest take home in all this drama is that the death of Jesus was not an accident, everything played out as prophesied. We should not be overwhelmed by the negatives from the political class, for God would arrange for us a better resurrection. We should not begrudge the political class, we should not hold their sins against them, and like Jesus, we must forgive and pray for them because they don’t always know what they do. For the things we see as the antics of politicians can just be the unseen forces of prophesy guiding them.
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