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?