We watched a Youtube clip -called Hotel Rwanda about the film of the same name detailing the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 (Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqQfZoUirCE&feature=related)
“Take a good look at my servant. I’m backing him to the hilt. He’s the one I chose, and I couldn’t be more pleased with him. I’ve bathed him with my Spirit, my life. He’ll set everything right among the nations. He won’t call attention to what he does with loud speeches or gaudy parades. He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right. He won’t tire out and quit. He won’t be stopped until he’s finished his work-to set things right on earth. Far-flung ocean islands wait expectantly for his teaching.”
Isaiah 42: 1-4 (The Message)
Jesus was placed before the governor, who questioned him: “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?” Jesus said, “If you say so.” But when the accusations rained down hot and heavy from the high priests and religious leaders, he said nothing. Pilate asked him, “Do you hear that long list of accusations? Aren’t you going to say something?” Jesus kept silence-not a word from his mouth. The governor was impressed, really impressed. It was an old custom during the Feast for the governor to pardon a single prisoner named by the crowd. At the time, they had the infamous Jesus Barabbas in prison. With the crowd before him, Pilate said, “Which prisoner do you want me to pardon: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus the so-called Christ? He knew it was through sheer spite that they had turned Jesus over to him.
Matthew 27:11-18 (The Message)
It is reported that between 15 and 20000 people are killed every year by unexploded landmines. The global movement of people across borders and around counties is huge, the total of displaced people around the world is 25 million. About 300 000 children under the age of 10 are directly involved in armed conflicts.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”
Have you ever said it yourself? Why? What was going on at the time? Have you ever been able to keep quiet in the face of taunts and name calling, or even of accusations being made against you?
When is it right to keep silent, like Jesus did in front of Pilate? When is it right to speak out, take your life into your own hands as the hotelier Paul Rusesabagina did in the 1994 during the Rwandan genocide when about a million people were murdered?
When to speak? when to keep quiet? Do you ever have that problem?
When we have just sung that we ask for the words of our mouths, the deeds of our day to speak of Jesus. How do we do that?
The passage from Matthew is all about confrontation and conflict. Jesus was in front of Pilate, the Roman Governor, because the Pharisees, the religious leaders, believed that Jesus disrespected the Law and the moral tradition they thought was vital for Jews to uphold. The accusations came thick and fast but Jesus remained silent.
The irony is that if Jesus had kept his mouth shut he would never have been here in the first place. He would not have upset the Pharisees and wouldn’t have to be quiet in front of Pilate.
Pilate was impressed with Jesus’ silence. It leaves me with a question Is Pilate the right man to impress? Who was also impressed with Jesus?
I once stood in a car park waiting to pay for my ticket when two men came and joined the queue behind me. One of them was smoking; there was a big sign on the wall asking people not to smoke. What would you do? What did I do? I said something. I was greeted with a torrent of abuse. I will now think twice, before speaking but should I?
Jesus meets the Pharisees’ intolerance and prejudice with courage and quiet determination. He does the same with Pilate allowing him to wrestle with the question of his identity themselves.
Jesus promised persecution and conflict and equipped his disciples to respond as Isaiah states:
Don;t call attention to what you do with loud speeches or gaudy parades. Don’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and don’t disregard the small and insignificant, but steadily and firmly set things right. Don’t tire out and quit. Don’t be stopped until the work is finished -to set things right on earth.
Lets start today.