• The Easter Stories 25 April 2017 | View comments

  • 25th April 2017 | By David Jolley

    Brought up within a sheltered Methodist tradition I have been surprised in recent years to have my understanding of the Palm Sunday and Good Friday stories given nudges to think again.

    On Palm Sunday, the new picture given in a sermon was that the triumphal entry into Jerusalem with waving palms and shouts of hosanna for Jesus riding on a donkey, occurred on the same day that the occupying Romans were celebrating another festival by a triumphant march, riding on magnificent horses through the gate on the other side of the city.

    What I had known was the story of Jesus and the background of predictions through the Old Testament. This new story adds a twist that provocation of the Romans by aping their pomp would make it just that more likely that this day of apparent victory would be followed quite quickly by retribution, retribution in this instance meted by the Romans rather than senior Jewish leaders. A sort of belt and bracer scenario in the ancient version of inevitable martyrdom. This is not to diminish the significance of the events but to add another dimension.

    It makes me think. It makes me wonder.

    Good Friday remembers the crucifixion. I have known of crucifixion only as part of the Easter story. I have seen the cross in every church and as a symbol carried by Christians. I carry the image of ‘a green hill, far away’ and one tall cross bracketed by two set lower on the hill, dreadful but glorious, a unique story which changed the world.

    But latterly I have come to understand the crucifixion was a form of torture and capital punishment which the Romans, and some other conquering armies, used very commonly. Hundreds of people who were deemed to have insulted the occupying force, were strung up in this way along the streets and lanes. It was a humiliating, awful, protracted, public death.

    So the horror of this is that it is not something special, it is commonplace. This is what men and women who have power over others are prepared to do to those others.

    We see it now and every day. We know that people are abused and misused by loan sharks, by friends and family and by governments. We are reading of individuals being told they must leave this country, although they have lived all their lives here, because of insensitive interpretation of new rules and regulations in anticipation of this country leaving the European Union.

    How can this be!

    We know of people being denied benefits because they are incapable of dealing with forms and computers within changing frameworks and unreasonable time constraints. This is not right.

    I hear of dedicated, experienced and excellent clinicians being required to practice in a way they know to be unethical in that it is not informed by the patient’s best interest but by the interests and aspirations of an employing organisation. How can this be!

    We are busy working to counter the problems which illness and pathology bring to people.

    Far more dreadful is this commonplace of gratuitous cruelty.

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