Pastor Andy Romstad
Cambridge Lutheran Church
You’ve been memorizing the Twin’s line-up. You’re following Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s fractured fibula. You’re pondering Joe Webb v. Donovan McNabb quarterback scenarios.
Suddenly, it’s Easter. You’re in church. Mom made you go. Someone reads the Easter story. You know nothing about the lineup. Who are these people? You can pronounce Tsuyoshi Nishioka but not Caiaphas. You only know Jesus and Judas. What’s a Pharisee?
But you can’t ask. It’d be embarrassing. You should know. You’ve only been to Easter about 30 times in your life. If you ask, someone might think you’re finally getting serious about God or something. Plus, nobody you know has the slightest idea, either.
You consider playing along. It’s church. Stay awake. Look interested. But you still don’t know the players in God’s plan to save humanity – it swept the globe and separates all of history into A.D. and B.C. If not now, when? You might as well know the players. Maybe this cheat sheet with Sunday’s Easter line-up will help:
• “Pilate” – This control-freak Roman governor had a big role in Monty Python’s Life of Brian and didn’t listen to his wife.
• “Peter” – The Rock (not the WWE Rock). Big talker who caved under pressure. Big impact disciple when he finally commits.
• “Chief Priests” – Collaborators. Sought to get along with Rome well enough to protect the temple. Thought it better that Jesus die than for the whole nation to die.
• “Pharisees” – Purists. A movement of common people seeking to be fully devoted followers of God. They often tried to trap Jesus, appearing more devoted to enforcing God’s law than expressing God’s love.
• “Zealots” – Fighters. Zealots were to Pharisees as “vegans are to vegetarians.” Resist Rome. Don’t pay taxes. God is on our side. They often died on crosses.
• “Essenes” – Withdraw. Once described as “isolationist librarians,” they believed everyone was corrupt but them. The Dead Sea Scrolls were their library.
• “The Crowds” – Discontent. Somebody needs to act. God delivered us from Egypt. God will deliver us from Rome. If Jesus won’t fight, then free Barabbas.
• “Last Supper” – Betrayal. During Jesus’ final meal with his disciples, he explains everything. No one gets it. Known as “Maundy Thursday” or “Holy Thursday,” Maundy means “commandment” – love one another as I have loved you.
• “Gethsemane” – This is Jesus’ prayer garden in an olive grove.
These are just a few of the players. We probably recognize ourselves in one of these groups.
So, Jesus goes to Gethsemane to pray about his game plan: He can fight like the zealots, withdraw like the Essenes, collaborate like the Chief Priests, submit to Pilate’s control, listen to the crowds or pray to his Father in heaven to rescue him with legions of angels. He does none of these. He decides to die.
Who wins? I won’t give away the score. Don’t miss the surprise ending. It was good enough that people still talk about it 2000 years later. The box score is in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What does it mean? Well, that is between you and God. It could be a surprise ending for you, as well.