Archive for October 27th, 2018

Mark 15:6-15“What evil has he done?”

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The scene of the crowd crying out to save Barabbas rather than Jesus has always been a difficult one for me to hear.  Troy Anthony Davis lost his life this week while crowds called for commutation of the sentence and others called for death.  Have we changed much in two millennia?

I remained baffled by human nature that calls for the sanctity of human before birth . . . while at the same time insisting on early death once life has begun.  We are a strange species.


The Davis case is one of many that continue to confuse us.  We can eliminate this confusion if we remember the scene that Mark paints for us today.


“What evil has he done?” asked Pilate.  But the crowd only shouted louder . . . and so Pilate washes his hands . . . and hands him over to be crucified.  We do not know if Davis was the person who murdered MacPhail, a Georgia policeman.  What we do know is that there is doubt . . . and still the crowds clamor.

The words of Isaiah are comforting in the face of rabid anger that insists on death without proof beyond doubt.  They are consoling when we are up against obtuse intransigence.  They are a balm that soothes the deep and ugly wounds left by those who insist on eradicating all that does not conform to their specific and particular ideas.

He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him.  He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.  Yet it is our suffering that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted.  But he was pierced by our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we are healed. 

It is not too difficult or too late to allow ourselves to be healed by Christ’s own death at the hands of those who wished to silence him.  We see by his example that the very action meant to end his influence only increased it many-fold.  As Laura Moye of Amnesty International is quoted in the Post link above, the execution of Davis may be “the best argument for abolishing the death penalty”.

And so we pray . . .

Good and Gentle God, you cure us of our smallest and greatest wounds . . . repair our emotional and physical scars and grant us the gift of healing that we may in turn heal others as you do.

Patient and Compassionate God, you soften hearts that are hardened in fear . . . make our hearts yielding and call them together to make them as great as yours.

Merciful and Clement God, you unbend necks that are stiffened in rage . . . unbend our necks and open our eyes that we may see as you do.

We ask this in the name of the one who was crucified for all, Jesus the Christ.  Amen.

A re-post from September 24, 2011. 

Find information about Troy Anthony Davis at: http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/death/US/davis1269.htm

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