“In a dramatic, and even unprecedented decision, Governor Pilate has chosen not to issue a stay of execution for Jesus of Nazareth, as was previously thought.
“After standing trial, Jesus had been acquitted of all charges. But in an unusual turn of events, when asked which prisoner the crowds wanted released (per the custom of releasing one prisoner every Passover season) the crowds asked for a prisoner named Barabbas, not Jesus.
“And with that, Jesus, who had just earlier been pronounced ‘not guilty,’ was sentenced to death, while Barabbas, who had been imprisoned for rebellion and murder, was let go. Allowing for no appeal process whatsoever for Jesus, the penalty was carried out swiftly and immediately. It is the belief of some that Governor Pilate gave in to political pressure and that justice was not served in this case.
“Our records indicate that Governor Pilate had been previously cautioned by the federal government in Rome about tensions in the region. It is safe to say at this point, that the last thing Governor Pilate needed was a riot in Jerusalem, when the city was crowded with people from all over for the Jewish Festival of Passover.
“Eyewitness accounts to Jesus’ death described a horrific scene, too gruesome for us to talk about or show to our viewers. We looked for comment from some of Jesus’ closest friends and relatives, but none could be found or were willing to speak on the record, thus proving the saying that in the difficult moments of life, you really do know who your friends are.
“There is very little we know about Jesus, but we are looking to substantiate the reports we are receiving. What we can tell you is that Jesus was only 33 years of age, having been born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth.
“Right from his birth, Jesus’ life was shrouded in mystery and even controversy. His claim was to be not of this world, even to be the ‘Son of God,’ but many knew him as Jesus, the son of a carpenter named Joseph.
“There were others who saw Jesus as a teacher, even calling themselves his disciples. And if you wanted to draw a crowd, Jesus was your man. There are other reports of people claiming that Jesus actually healed them from all kinds of disease and sickness.
“The question that remains tonight is, was this the death of a ‘lunatic’ or ‘Lord,’ as he said he was? Either way, there is no question that the name Jesus comes with no shortage of emotion on the streets of Jerusalem tonight. People seem to either love him or hate him. One thing I am sure of is that this is not the last we’ve heard about Jesus.”
… This is how the “Nightly News” might have opened on the day Jesus was crucified. Before we move on too quickly from the Easter season we just celebrated, make no mistake. There has been a death.
Death is a difficult subject for many to deal with. It’s often equated with finality. At the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, if you hated Jesus, then you were hoping his death was final. If you loved Jesus, you were hoping what he said would take place would actually happen.
The interesting thing about Jesus’ death was its lack of finality. Recently I performed the memorial service for a child who lived only 10 minutes. Her memorial service ended up being an hour-and-a-half worship service. How could this be?
This was only possible because a previous death had taken place some 2,000 years ago. Because Jesus’ death was not final, neither is ours. And in Jesus, what should be a time of hurt becomes a moment of hope.
Before you move on too quickly past Easter, remember that there has been a death. It was not just. It was not fair. And in many ways, it should never have happened.
But if Jesus does not die, he cannot rise. If he does not rise, we do not have hope.
Jesus died. Jesus rose. We have hope.
Three days after Jesus’ crucifixion, the “Nightly News” may have started this way, “Breaking news: Death leads to life!”
Brad LeRoy is lead pastor of Harvest Church in Mt. Comfort. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.