How many epic films have taken the powerful theme of sacrifice, and wring every nail-biting, toe-curling, edge of the seat, breath holding frame from our empathy with the hero or heroine?
Wherein one stays behind to pull the trigger and save the world? Those films where the hero dies and all around applaud their selflessness?
One of those “facts” we all connect to – hardwired to resist (oh no I couldn’t let you do that) … applaud (well if you insist on me not dying) … and connect (what a guy or a gal – makes my heart sing just to know them).
We like a bit of sacrifice and selflessness in others.
The passage today from John 11 has always caught my eye. The simpleness of the dialogue. The lighting. The mood music. The arrangement of the cast. The timing. The simplicity. The connection to our empathy. The absolute “playing” of our naivety (?) or our baser instincts (?):
But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.’ He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to put him to death. Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples. John 11:49-54
That is pure Hollywood! A masterpiece. Life imitating art. All that sophisticated stuff we churn out so easily.
High Priest. Top man. He Prophesied. Top man speaks with God. Jesus will stay behind to pull the trigger and save the world. And in the process remove this irritating blot from our comfortable and cosy way of living life our way. Jesus knows all this. Yet – as with all the best heroes and heroines – calmly accepts death whilst allowing the “bad guys” to feel like they are doing the right thing.
Life never imitates art. Hollywood never shapes our culture.
We do that. We buy-into the hyperbole, the headline, the wowsers trailer, the empathy.
Because we are each “the real deal” – fact. And when we are “lead by the nose” and deceived … how often is it because we are just glad someone else has put their head above the wall? How often is it easier to applaud another’s sacrifice so we don’t have to? How often is it easier to sleep our way through adversity?
What’s that I hear in the background …
That if we had all resisted this plea … then Jesus may not have died and His Plan would not have come to fruition, we would all have been stuck in the old days with the old ways. He wouldn’t have been able to sacrifice Himself for us. To save us from the death that He took on. To move us to the “New Way” the freeway. That to to have resisted would have tinkered with fate. It would not have been in God’s Plan.
Ah yes … “Not my way, but thy way dear Father” kind of thing?
What’s that I hear rustling in the bushes? In the dark shadows? In the hand-in-front-of-the-mouth whispers? Whose name is that I hear …
Pilate? Pontius Pilate …. ahh yes …
Didn’t Pilate have a ritual bowl of water? The one he brought out with great ritual. Very publicly. That washing his hands thing. Nowt to do with me chaps, I am not to blame, I am not responsible – you want it, it’s your decision, your responsibility.
That hand washing thing … not quite so edifying or selfless. Not something we like to think of ourselves as doing.
Yet isn’t that wee bowl still something we all carry and use when it suits us? The water we splash being whatever cocktail of soothing opinion we feel works best at any particular decision point?
Infused with facts, infused with they said, infused with it is of god, infused with I have no time right now, infused with I am no expert on this, infused with they are experts they must know, infused with such a cocktail of …
Not only each other. No just the “they said.
We do it so well inside ourselves. Wash our hands. Applaud others. Say yes because it means we can go back to doing what we prefer. That wee bowl, and our cocktail cabinet of infusions. Deep inside and out of sight. Where the good – and bad – stuff happens. Where God lives and breathes and guides and Loves … if we let Him.
And where God sees each and every time.