Finding Easter (stories)

(First published April 9, 2009)

I struggle with remembering where things are in the Bible. I struggle with remembering details of stories. I remember ideas and images in sweeping references.

I’m not alone.

Some days, it’s helpful to review, to go back to the familiar images and read the actual story again.

This is a good week for reviewing.

Today? Some images that have worked their way into popular culture.

1. Washing one’s hands of a matter

Pilate was a Roman governor of Israel. He could decide death penalty cases and would have acquitted Jesus. He deferred to the wishes of a crowd but symbolically absolved himself of responsibility.

Matthew 27: Single sentence Whole story

2. Thirty pieces of silver

Judas was one of the twelve disciples. He agreed to help the religious leaders find Jesus  when there were no crowds around. They paid him thirty coins.

Matthew 26: Getting paid Matthew 27: Returning the money

3. Crown of thorns

Put on Jesus’ head by the soldiers who were torturing him. It was a painfully sarcastic reference to being considered a King. This detail shows up in three of the four Gospels.

Matthew Mark John

4. Washing feet

At social events, servants provided water and towels for washing dirty feet. At the supper that turned out to be the last one, there was no servant. Jesus got the water and towel and washed the disciples’ feet. It was the last thing a leader would be expected to do.

John 13: The story

5. Bread and wine

Jesus and his followers were together for supper. Jesus took what was at hand, at the table. There was at this meal, of course, bread and wine. And so he used those elements to create a reminder. Intriguing: we celebrate communion in church but we eat bread all the time. So when could we remember?

Luke 22: the story