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OPINION: The Cheering, the Crucifixion and the Change

By Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria

BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The story of Jesus is ever new, no matter how many times or from which person it is told. Similarly this Easter period our readers are most likely to hear, read and watch what seemingly may look like a repeat of “we heard all this before”. No sir and no ma, nobody has ever heard enough of Jesus’ story until that person becomes like Jesus. At Easter time the seven days are events full but they seem to have fewer hours for the disciples of Jesus. The cheering of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, when he was anointed as their king, soon ended in a story of “Jesus before Pilate” and “Jesus on the cross”. Jesus was scourged, treated with other severities and Insults, delivered up, and led away to be crucified. Those were tough running hours for many Jerusalem women, his disciples, for Bible students and the uncaring World. The World has two polarities; one for its creator the other for its destroyer.

Eventually Jesus Christ, (Jesus that had been the hope of many), was nailed on the cross and in the presence of his mother and many of his followers. Many parents cannot even watch their children failing an exam and becoming university dropouts, but Mary watched her beloved son nailed to the cross cruelly. At the same time she saw two notorious robbers nailed along with him. They nailed one robber on the left and the other on the right. These two men (robbers or thieves) who under this name appear in the history of the crucifixion were armed robbers rather than ordinary thieves, belonging to the lawless bands by which Palestine was at that time and afterward infested and headed by Jesus Barabbas. Our readers in Africa may compare Jesus Barabbaas and his company of robbers to the Boko Haram, kidnappers or even armed robbers’ saga in Nigeria. Against these brigands every Roman procurator had to wage continual war. It was necessary to use an armed police to encounter them. We know nothing of the previous history of the two robbers who suffered on Golgotha with Jesus of Nazareth nor of the number of them that might have escaped arrest. But we know that they had been tried and condemned, and were awaiting their execution before our Lord was accused. It is probable enough to assume that the death of their leader Barabbas was clearly expected at the same time; they had taken part in Jesus Barabbas insurrection had expected to die with him. They found themselves with one who bore the same name, but who was described in the superscription on his cross as Jesus of Nazareth.

They could hardly have failed to hear something about Jesus of Nazareth’s fame as a prophet, of his triumphal entry as a king. Today, hardly can any twenty years old living in Nigeria claim ignorance of not hearing of a prophet like T B Joshua and many others, for the right or wrong reasons. These are self a claimed societal changing agents rather than the Nigerian politicians who cannot change even their shoes by themselves. They are crusaders of new life and demonstrating the infinite power of the unseen divine nature living in us but which the carnal man prefers to suppress. At first the two robbers chose to dwell in the prevailing tone of scorn and mockery around them.

 Incidentally and instantly, over one of the two notorious robbers came a great and significant change. He must have looked back upon his past life, and saw an infinite level of accumulated evil he had committed. He looked to the man dying on the cross beside him, and saw an infinite compassion. There indeed was one unlike all other kings of the Jews whom the robber had ever known. Such a one must be all that he had claimed to be. To be forgotten by that king seemed to him the most terrible of all punishments. Hence he decided to take part in the triumph of Jesus’ hopeful return, the most blessed of all hopes. The yearning prayer was answered, not in the letter, but in the spirit. No robber should make dying on the cross his or her last bus stop. But we should rather emulate the robber hanging helplessly on the right side of the Lord of lords because he changed his way right and was rescued.

Jesus died on the cross, brought down by a company of two of his wealthy secret disciples and buried in a new tomb. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulchre. The choice of this tomb was dictated by the double circumstance that it was so near at hand, and by its belonging to one of these two friends of the Lord. There was a need of haste; even they would be struck with the providence which thus supplied it. “There laid they Jesus therefore, because of the Jew’s preparation day, for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”

Now one may ask, “Was Jesus a failure?” At the beginning of his ministry some of his followers thought that he would be the king to deliver them from the brutal Roman Powers but he ended up on the cross. Jesus had no desire to be an earthly king and he made this very clear even before Pilate. But he came into the world to establish another type of kingdom, a spiritual kingdom, drawing together everyone who cares to put their faith and trust in him as their Saviour. These must committee themselves to following him. However his enemies would have thought that putting him to death would have made people to forget about him very soon. They were very wrong because on the third day his tomb was empty, death had been defeated and Jesus was alive. And now, over 2000 years later, countless millions are following him and worshipping him everyday. Therefore the right question for our political leaders is rather what to do when they are not sure if a prophet in their midst as God sent or not.

Our other message this Easter is on “Leadership and Management of Change“. For instance Nigerian government yearns for both good leadership and a changed culture. Jesus was able to build authentic relationships with his disciples and the audience through living and teaching his new lifestyle. Christianity is a lifestyle rather than a religion similar to politics that is living for the people your programme of conviction. Unfortunately today’s leaders are more likely to boss their way in their attempts to mold a society. Their followers and the audience can easily read leadership insincerity and corruption hence the authenticity of leadership is lost and the society is ruined by that fact of double standards.

 The desired change will not come if we remain and live total in partisanship. Rather we should work together, relying one on another and complementing each other in a genuine way. In general our leadership must be consistent, efficient, confident and sufficient; although these are mathematical properties of a good estimator but where a leader is also an estimate of the society. If a leader, at any time or at whatever level, finds out that he is wrong, the best approach is resignation rather than renting the world’s army of lawyers. These qualities in a leadership will not only create national unity, but they also become a standard and a competitive advantage for our societies to earn international community respect. The investments, employments, corruption-free society and developments, we all yearn for all depend largely on the level of sincerity and honesty in leadership. Jesus led his disciples from the position of being the Truth, the Way, their Life and hence the King to come.

On the other hand you may or may not agree with the heretics for despising of the Almighty God, the Father of Jesus of Nazareth. I only agree with them to some extent that the god they despise does not exist; a god of toy. Their thinking for instance is that because a man has a house, a car, a wife and possibly some children therefore he also must own a god. Hence he has to invent his toy god in his own image. No wonder the Pilates of this world cannot go beyond the crowd to arrive at a judgment in choosing whom to crucify between Jesus Barabbas and Jesus of Nazareth. History let us know about a Pilate, the Herod, the two robbers, all because there was a Jesus of Nazareth, the God of providence and the God of coincidence. Peradventure you may be living in the illusion that justice will be served you. This season we tell you to look up unto the God of Jesus of Nazareth for such justice because there is not going to be any justice in this world any more. The god of the heretics and the rulers of this world are themselves going to be judged.

Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi

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