I read The Passion from the Book of Common Prayer yesterday, and I was struck when Pilate replied to Jesus, ‘what is truth?’
I certainly have asked that question in varying forms of expression and varying degrees of intensity, and I think I’m not alone, for my little part in the journey, in often feeling like Pilate did: afraid and under competing pressures and exasperated in the middle of it. I too often let those feelings and those things push me around instead of focusing on the presence of the Lord. Pilate was overwhelmed by those feelings and those things to the point that he didn’t ask the question honestly or he didn’t wait in the presence of the Lord for an answer. He quickly and repeatedly turned to the mob. When you don’t wait and work for love to cast out fear that is what happens: you anxiously allow yourself to become a victim of circumstance and allow worldly pressures to sway.
My maternal grandfather died on Good Friday a decade before I was born. I think about him often, and it’s one of the many reasons this poem by John Donne is so moving:
Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward
Donne, John (1572 – 1631)
J. D., Poems (London: M. F. for John Marriot, 1633).
1Let mans Soule be a Spheare, and then, in this,
2The intelligence that moves, devotion is,
3And as the other Spheares, by being growne
4Subject to forraigne motion, lose their owne,
5And being by others hurried every day,
6Scarce in a yeare their naturall forme obey:
7Pleasure or businesse, so, our Soules admit
8For their first mover, and are whirld by it.
9Hence is’t, that I am carryed towards the West
10This day, when my Soules forme bends toward the East.
11There I should see a Sunne, by rising set,
12And by that setting endlesse day beget;
13But that Christ on this Crosse, did rise and fall,
14Sinne had eternally benighted all.
15Yet dare I’almost be glad, I do not see
16That spectacle of too much weight for mee.
17Who sees Gods face, that is selfe life, must dye;
18What a death were it then to see God dye?
19It made his owne Lieutenant Nature shrinke,
20It made his footstoole crack, and the Sunne winke.
21Could I behold those hands which span the Poles,
22And tune all spheares at once peirc’d with those holes?
23Could I behold that endlesse height which is
24Zenith to us, and our Antipodes,
25Humbled below us? or that blood which is
26The seat of all our Soules, if not of his,
27Made durt of dust, or that flesh which was worne
28By God, for his apparell, rag’d, and torne?
29If on these things I durst not looke, durst I
30Upon his miserable mother cast mine eye,
31Who was Gods partner here, and furnish’d thus
32Halfe of that Sacrifice, which ransom’d us?
33Though these things, as I ride, be from mine eye,
34They’are present yet unto my memory,
35For that looks towards them; and thou look’st towards mee,
36O Saviour, as thou hang’st upon the tree;
37I turne my backe to thee, but to receive
38Corrections, till thy mercies bid thee leave.
39O thinke mee worth thine anger, punish mee,
40Burne off my rusts, and my deformity,
41Restore thine Image, so much, by thy grace,
42That thou may’st know mee, and I’ll turne my face.