by Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Wilburn
Remembering Passion Week, we should recall that yesterday, Monday, Jesus visited the Temple in Jerusalem. He rode in on the donkey colt as royalty. He looked around the temple. Depending on which gospel evangelist you pay attention to, Jesus then cleared the temple outer court of the money changers. I think we misunderstand the money changers. They weren’t just crass profiteers making a shekel off the worshipers. No, they had a righteous function: changing dirty Roman coinage into holy coinage – they kept worshipers from defiling the temple with pagan money. Good men. Jesus clears them out.
No matter which evangelist you read, one thing was certain: today, Tuesday, the religious leaders decided Jesus was a big problem. “By whose authority do you do these things? Who authorized you?” Power struggle.
Today is the most evil day. Today and tomorrow. For today normal men, good men, family men, holy men, loyal men got together and plotted how they can kill Jesus according to the law. Think of the conversations… “He has got to go. He’s going to bring down the whole Roman garrison down on us. He’s going to cause a riot. Innocent people will ruthlessly get killed. Our nation, our temple and our families are at stake. All our religious deals we’ve swung with the Romans are in jeopardy. Herod won’t stand for some pretender king. He’ll do something rash and stupid and really mess it up with the Romans.”
I think it was Thomas Merton who said, “It is always the good people who do the most destruction.” Why? Because the good men are just like all the rest of us – all of us silently, quietly endorse great evil… we pitch in to straighten out and police a middle eastern oil nation, or quietly endorse Jim Crow laws (but these days they are polite geographic boundaries: inner city vs. suburbia), and defend health care for the middle class at the expense of the oppressed uninsured. Good men do nothing but wag their heads and say, “Such a shame that Jesus man had to die. I suppose he just spoke his mind too often. So what can anyone do?”
Good men do little and defend the status quo. Good men play the game. This day, this Tuesday is the day good men devised a scheme to kill Jesus. I don’t want to be a good man.