As we reflect these days on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, we might pause and consider that many stories of different individual characters are all colliding at this most crucial intersection of human history. Among them were his closest friends and companions in ministry – Peter, Andrew, James, John, and the other apostles who had spent three years in close proximity to Jesus. There were his mother Mary and other unidentified family members who were concerned for his health and kept close watch from afar. There were the women who attended to his needs out of their own means. There were the scribes, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who engaged in heated discussions with him. And in these last days, they have been increasingly threatened by his teaching, so they sought ways to kill him. Each of the people in the account of Jesus’ final hours had some awareness of God, and of God’s design for them. Most could not probably comprehend the larger picture. They were totally oblivious through no fault of their own. Their highest priorities were their own earthly concerns. And nothing that was happening in those final days was significant enough to force their way into the top spots of pressing concerns.
Of course, Jesus’ disciples and his mother were fully immersed in these events, but probably not on the level of God’s grand design – only that they had a personal connection with the man. They may have caught glimpses into Jesus’ purpose – discovering what God was trying to accomplish, how Jesus fit into that grand design, how each of them were ultimately to play a role in its unfolding. But there was no guarantee the pieces would come together, or that a clear picture might emerge. They were immersed in emotions, visceral and intense. In a way it was a blessing. It shielded them from a complete spiritual meltdown had they known the full significance of what was happening – what it all meant, and the inevitable consequence of humanity’s greatest crime – the murder of the Son of God.
The scribes and Pharisees, and the civil leaders, could have told themselves they were just doing their job, nothing more. They had sat in judgment of many others before Jesus, most of them vehemently claiming innocence, certain they were not so deluded in reality. But the emotional response reached its peak and subsided. There will be others like him, none of them truly remarkable. But this one death would have near zero effect on them because they were not disposed to absorb its true significance. The moment would come to pass, and they would remain the same.
The passing observer in Jerusalem, the tourist, the visitor, were all uninvolved, disconnected, even indifferent. Perhaps they heard about Jesus of Nazareth. But he was for many of them simply a curiosity, a flash-in-the-pan celebrity, a passing distraction. Would they have been more receptive perhaps at a later time? Only God knows.
We are often invited to walk with Jesus the journey to Calvary and to Easter. We do so knowing he walks with us the rest of the year. If he is not a stranger this would be a welcome opportunity to spend with him. We walk with him in gratitude for not ever allowing us to walk alone.