Lectionary Reflection for the Sixth Sunday in Lent

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 27:11-54:

Who killed Jesus . . . cannot be determined by any one text. That it is unclear from the gospels and especially from Matthew who killed Jesus, is not accidental.

Matthew, as we have seen from the beginning, has written his gospel in which we cannot avoid being a disciple of Jesus, one of the elites, or a member of the crowd. The answer to the question of who killed Jesus, therefore, is that we all killed Jesus.

The disciples killed Jesus by deserting him. The crowd killed Jesus because they were a crowd. The elites of Israel killed Jesus because they feared his call to holiness. Pilate killed Jesus because he had the responsibility to maintain order. “The people as a whole” killed Jesus because they had nothing better to do.

We all killed and continue to kill Jesus. So let us all say that “his blood be on us and on our children!”

Jesus must be killed because Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus must be killed because Jesus has called into existence a new people who constitute a challenge to the world order based on lies and deceit. Jesus must be killed because he is a threat to all who rule in the name of safety and comfort. Jesus must be killed because we do not desire to have our deepest desires exposed. Jesus must be killed because we do not want our loves governed by his love. Jesus must be killed because we refuse to forgive our enemies. Jesus must be killed because we do not believe in a God who creates us and who would come among us after our likeness. . . .

Why did he have to die? Why did he have to die on a cross? The latter question seems easily answered. He had to die on a cross because that is the way Romans executed those they regarded as a threat to their interest. Hang them high so that all could see what happens when one challenges Rome.

But that answer is not sufficient for us to understand why he had to die on a cross. He died on a cross to reveal the heart of God. The cross is where God’s life crosses our life to create a life otherwise unimaginable.


©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.