An easter message

Happy Easter to you all.

The miscarriage of justice which resulted in the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth was a great event for both Christians and non Christians. For Christians the resurrection confirms the divine power of Christ, and represented the triumph of hope over despair, good over evil. Non Christians accept that the events 2000 years ago in Jerusalem had a lasting impact on human history, fashioning an important reglious movement which also changed the exercise of secular power for many centuries in the West.

Pontius Pilate, the weak and unfortunate Roman ruler, would never in his worst dreams have imagined that 2000 years later people would still be arguing over his actions. He probably did not expect his name to become a synonym for people in authority trying to wash their hands of responsibility for wrong actions, when they do them to appease the mob.

The case against Jesus, to the extent that there was one, was that the doctrine which he taught undermined authority. Jesus and his followers could reply that they wished to render unto Caesar what was Caesar’s. They were careful in their reported comments not to call for regime change or to be openly critical of the government. Nonetheless they challenged established power structures and views, making some in authority feel uncomfortable.

That is partly why the Easter story is still so powerful, whether you are a believer or not. Since that first Good Friday there have been many miscarriages of justice, weak rulers, mobs full of hatred, and fearful establishments lacking the confidence which authority should bring. Few have been so infamous in western traditions as that ill fated Roman regime in the Middle East.

What should we learn from the Easter story? That you cannot make a weak government strong by seeking to silence its critics. That you cannot silence critics, even by the extreme action of killing their leader, if they are saying something people want to hear.

Our modern Easter celebrations are a magnificent muddle of older traditions, the Christian message, Victorian additions, and the hope that Spring is at last with us. All our Easters are lit up by the wonderful soft yellows of the daffodils and the fresh greens of the hedgerows sprouting into life. I like the Hot Cross buns, the Simnel cake and the decorated eggs. Enjoy your Spring festival, the celebration of rebirth and new life. Enjoy your Easter if you are a believer. This is a day to enjoy hope. Perhaps it is time to think that things can only get better?

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18 Comments

  1. Minum
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Happy Easter, and thank you for your insightful blog

  2. oldrightie
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    0530 in a country Church yard, a brazier lit and a dawn service held. Genuine sense of peace.
    Then I got home and logged on. Christian teaching and The Easter message has definitely passed our Government by. Still a blessed time for all.

  3. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Very well said John and a Happy Easter to you.

  4. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    John,
    Happy Easter to you. Enjoy your day.

  5. Archbishop Cranmer
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    A happy and blessed Easter to you and your family, Mr Redwood.

    It is a constant source of reassurance to know that there are members on the Conservative benches who not only know, but believe, and who not only believe, but practise. And this practice is central to who they are. Those who ‘do God’ are not ‘nutters’, as Tony Blair said. They are wise, discerning, honest and faithful.

    Bless you.

    ++Cranmer

  6. Adrian Peirson
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Happy Easter to you and your family Mr Redwood.

  7. Anna Sabetian
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Happy Easter to you, John!Thanks for your enlightened message! Spot on ( as usual)!

  8. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Have a very Happy Easter John ! Every time I go to Mass I return to the Cross & the Last Supper. Jesus returns to us again & again under the form of bread & wine – he did so at the Last Supper when he broke the bread & gave it to his followers to eat. At Mass Christ is both Priest & Sacrifice – he shares in our sufferings now as he loves us. The Last Supper was the commencement of the Priesthood and after the resurrection his followers recognized Our Lord ‘ In the breaking of the bread.’

    Good Friday is a day to mourn & give thanks that Our Lord suffered & died to redeem sinners that believers might have eternal life. As Father Robert Byrne said on Maundy Thursday Mass that we should not get too hung up on the blood & guts of the death of Christ on Calvary – rather we should recall the motives behind the suffering of Jesus. Father Jerome Bertram on Good Friday made the point that when Jesus said: ‘ Forgive them Father they know not what they do’ he did not just mean the crowds who wanted Barabas spared nor did he mean just Judas nor just Pilate nor just the religious leaders. He actually meant all of us now who fail because we do not act according to the Father’s will & thus stumble around in spiritual darkness rather than living in the light of God’s Holy Truth.

    Easter at the Oratory has been splendid in Oxford and I wish John and all regulars on this blog a very blessed & happy Easter !

  9. Henry North London
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    A great allegory but unfortunately the populace are not all aware of what an allegory is.

    Easter tidings to you and may I take this opportunity to extend the idea of you leaving the Conservative statist party and joining the Libertarian party

  10. chris southern
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    All the best John, have a relaxing day.

  11. Jim Pearson
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Happy Easter to you and yours. Regards

  12. pipesmoker
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    He was one of a line of prophets, probably slightly mad, but that was no reason to kill him.

    I am a atheist. Would Tony Blair have gone to war had he not had guidance from the almighty? I think not!

    Religious belief is frequently the problem and not the answer but I wish all of you a very happy weekend and do not need the excuse of Easter to do it..

  13. Adam-
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    It’s interesting to note that economists still discuss the destruction of the Roman economy by debasement of the currency. Could future generations 1500 years from now still be discussing the collapse of Western civilization through much the same means?

  14. David Belchamber
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Happy Easter, Mr Redwood, to you and to your family – and, of course, some success on the cricket field, if you are still playing!
    We need to take the message of resurrection and hope into our lives even more than ever at this time, whether it be in a Christian sense or only in a literal, secular one.
    It must be up to a Conservative government to build a new, better and, I hope, much fairer society out of the ashes left by Blair and Brown.

  15. mikestallard
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    In church, it often seems like a sort of theatre show, so it was really moving when our priest, who has cancer and who has been very near death, spoke about resurrection.
    May I take this opportunity to thank you for all the many hours which you have spent this year in pouring out your wisdom and wit for us to comment on and enjoy.
    And then all the other many hours you must have spent reading our stuff…….
    Happy Easter!

  16. Jamtastic
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Jesus has risen, hallow be thy name

  17. Coeur de Lion
    Posted April 13, 2009 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Actually Pilate was by no means weak – he was in post for ten years, longer than any praefectus of Judaea, (equalling Gratus )between AD6 (census) and AD68 (Revolt) . Luke (Ch 13,1-2), Josephus (‘War’) and Philo of Alexandria (‘Ad Gaium’) all attest his brutal nature. He was sacked by Vitellius the Syrian legate for violent suppression of a Samaritan event in AD36 (with Caiaphas). Jesus drew his attention by coming into Jerusalem on a colt of an ass (Zecharaiah 9.9). “Are you the King of the Jews?” and Caiaphas didn’t like the moneychangers table upsets. ‘Barabbas’ – unbelieveable. Rome didn’t like unauthorised kings. Jesus was unlucky – wrong place, wrong time. Much gospelling is redacted by late Christian anti-Jew propaganda and a need to keep onside with the Romans (esp. Mark) This doesn’t detract from the Easter message of course.

    Reply: Yes, good points, but I see him as weak as we are told he put to death a man he believed to be innocent because the mob wanted him to.A good strong justice would have decided the case on its merits. And look at the consequences of that call!

  18. Coeur de Lion
    Posted April 13, 2009 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Further to ‘Pilate’s nature’. No way would the historical Pilate bow to a mob of yelling Jews. (“Sergeant – get rid of those polloi”) He didn’t think Jesus was innocent – INRI says it all.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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