First thing I'd like to draw out of the text: Don’t want suffering. Don’t desire it. Don’t chase it down. You don't need to chase it down. (It will chase you down).
I know that this goes without saying. (But I find that when something ‘goes without saying’, then that’s the reason to say it again): There is nothing inherently desirable about suffering by itself. Look at V1:
At that very time there were some present who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
A slaughter has taken place, presumably in Jerusalem. It is a nationally disturbing and unholy massacre at the hands of a Roman oppressor. The slaughter happened during the Galilean's sacrificing to their God. And the word about this tragedy has gone out. There are whispers on the road from Jerusalem (which is in the south) to Galilee (in the north). And anger and frustration are no doubt welling up within. The Blogosphere has gone wild with people angry about the Government. And maybe others are angry with the freedom fighters who stir up the trouble. And Jesus is journeying south from Galilee to Jerusalem, and meeting him on the road is this breaking news.
We don’t know the size of this evil act. We don’t know if people felt as strongly about this as they did, say, about 9/11. But I think that there is something of that kind of pain here.
We have no record of this event outside of the gospels. But we know it is consistent with the Roman oppression in Ancient Palestine at that time. The Jewish historian Josephus writing in c75AD speaks about Pilate slaughtering Jews. The context of the following quote is this: Pilate has gained wind of a Jewish disturbance, and he positioned his soldiers deep within a crowd of Jews, and they are in civilian clothing and carrying concealed weapons:
He [Pilate] then gave the signal from his tribunal [to do as he had bidden them]. Now the Jews were so sadly beaten, that many of them perished by the stripes they received, and many of them perished as trodden to death by themselves; by which means the multitude was astonished at the calamity of those that were slain, and held their peace.
Many Jews were killed. Others trodden to death in the stampede to save themselves. So that the Jews "Held their peace". It is atrocitious. And so was this act in V1.
It all sounds as little like Tiananmen Square?
(Point #1 is to be continued tommorrow.)