Psalm 221-21; Mark 14.53- 15 end.
Today we reach the conclusion of the Holy Week story; perhaps the inevitable conclusion.
We have heard how Jesus rode into Jerusalem, riding on a beast of burden, fulfilling the prophesy of Zechariah of a ruler who comes in the name of the Lord, to bring peace and justice, presenting an alternative to the Roman forces who marched in at the same time. We have heard of his week teaching in the Temple, challenging the religious authorities by his words and actions.
We have remembered the institution of Holy Communion as Jesus ate the Passover meal with his friends, redefining the symbolism about the way in which freedom is achieved, and calling his disciples to share his vocation of love and service. We have heard of his betrayal by someone he regarded as a friend and companion. We have watched as all his friends deserted him in the face of a threat to their own lives and liberty.
We have witnessed the travesty of a trial before the religious authorities, who were willing to encourage perjury to rid themselves of this threat to their secure position. We have listened to the exchange with the political authority, to whom he was also a threat, a possible leader of unrest at a sensitive time.
And today we come to the final act: rejected by the mob, condemned to death in spite of his obvious innocence, mocked, beaten and tortured by the military, humiliated and executed in a most terrible death; and perhaps most dreadful of all, losing his confidence in the presence of the God of love.
And as we watch, and listen, and witness the death of Jesus, we remember also all those other innocent people who have suffered and died, and still suffer and die, at the hands of the vengeful mob, or the political or religious authorities.
And we remember our frailties, the frailties we share with our fellow men and women: the times when we have let down our friends, when we have turned against those who trusted us, or deserted those who needed our support because of fears for our own position, or our own safety; the times when we have misused the power we have, the times when we have bullied those who are in no position to resist, the times we have colluded with actions we know to be wrong, the times when we have discriminated against those who are different from us, the times when we have failed to speak up for the truth.
And as we contemplate the cross, which is the result of all those failures, we pray that we may be given the grace to turn again, and make a new beginning, raised up by God to a new life, following in the way which Jesus trod.