Why Jesus Died

To this day, I am haunted by a sermon that I heard. The church is Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta where Martin Luther King, Jr. and Sr. both preached. I was there with a seminary group on the Sunday before Easter.
The preacher asked, “Why did Jesus have to die?” We thought about it while he went on to describe all the details of Jesus trial, beating, crucifixion and death?
He asked again, “Why did Jesus have to die?” Then described the scene of Jesus death again.
Then he said, “There is one thing I want to know? Why was Jesus alone? Where were the disciples?” We all knew they were off hiding. He asked, “Where were the rest?” Rest? what rest? “The people shouting ‘Hosanna’ in the street? Where were they? Where were those that Jesus healed? Where were the ten lepers? The blind and the lame? The woman who was caught in adultery that Jesus kept them from stoning her, where was she? Zachaeus who Jesus brought down from the tree and into the community? The roman centurion that Jesus healed his slave? Nicodemus who came by night? Where were they? Where were they all? What about Lazarus? Jesus raised him from the dead? Why was he not there? He was living on bonus time! How could he not be brave enough to show up? Where was he? Where were they all?”
“You want to know why Jesus died? He died because no one waws willing to stand beside him! Because no one was willing to stand with him!
Because no one was willing to stand up for him! He died because when he needed them most, when he – the one who did so much for them needed them most, they were off hiding. Or if they were in the crowd, they were to afraid to act! Jesus died because the ones he healed, cared for, loved…did nothing.”
Since I heard that sermon, I hear this story with new ears. In that crowd were people, followers of Jesus, lovers of God, people who knew Jesus was innocent, and they were too afraid to act. So I scream at them, “Do something!”
Jesus died because they did nothing.
The truth of the matter is, how many more times does Jesus die because people like us, people who have felt his special touch, people who know the love of God, do not act.
Martin Niemoeller was a pastor in Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s. He said this, “They came first for the communists, but I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came fo the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak.”
When Khrushchev came to power in the Soviet Union, he denounced Stalin and his brutal actions during his rule. In a crowded hall, someone shouted, “Where were you, Comrade Khrushchev, when all these innocent people were being slaughtered?”
Khrushchev paused, looking around the hall, and shouted, “Who said that?” “Will the man who said that stand up so I can see him.”
Tension built. All was quiet. No one said anything or moved.
Then Khrushchev said, “Well, whoever you are, you have your answer now. I was in exactly the same position then as you are now.”
As the saying in your bulletin reads, “All that is needed for evil to triumph is that the good do nothing.”
As we face this Holy Week, as we remember all that was done to Jesus and all that others didn’t do, as you wake to another Easter season and another day in your life, what will you do? How will the world be different because you lived another day?