A Good Friday meditation

Matt Gunter, reflecting on the image of a Soviet sub’s nuclear powerplant gone critical reflects on the parallels between the contamination caused by the leaking radiation and the way our sinful natures contaminate our relationships with the people who surround us in our lives.

“We are contaminated. What’s even harder for us to admit is that many of our actions and thoughts contribute to the contamination. The leaking reactor at the heart of the world contaminates everything. The reactor of our own hearts is contaminated. Like the crew on the K-19 we are trapped – unable to escape the toxic contamination.

Into this world comes one who is not contaminated. Jesus enters into the world and acts as a sort of holy Geiger counter setting off a click, click, click as he encounters the contamination radiating from Sin and Death.

Judas, a trusted friend and disciple, comes to him in the darkness. Perhaps it was greed. Perhaps it was disillusionment. Perhaps it as an impatient attempt to force Jesus’ hand and bring about the kingdom as Judas envisioned it. In any event, Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss.  And with that lip service, the Geiger counter goes click, click, click, click.

By most standards the high priests, Annas and Caiaphas, were probably decent enough men, trying to maintain as much independence for their nation as they could while appeasing the occupying Romans and forestalling the wrath of the empire.  But Caiaphas was the one who had counseled that it was ‘better to have one person die for the people.’ Jesus was just ‘collateral damage’ in the struggle to preserve the nation’s precarious security.  There is a logic to his thinking.  It is reasoning with which we have become familiar.  But the thinking is contaminated.  And again we hear, click, click, click, click.

Peter, the ‘Rock’, cracks under pressure and lies to avoid being associated with the one who had called him and whom he had followed. He denies Jesus not once but thrice and upon the third denial hears the rooster crow click, click, click, click.

Pilate cynically asks the one who is Truth, ‘What is truth?’ Unable or unwilling to accept the truth and the changes that must follow, Pilate, who claims the power to free or to crucify, hands an innocent man over to be crucified while seeking to remain free of the guilt. But he cannot escape the click, click, click, click measuring the contamination of his actions.

One way or another, each of the characters that Jesus encounters in the passion narrative (excepting only Mary and the other women, along with the disciple Jesus loved) demonstrates his contamination by the radiation of Sin and Death. Each alone and all together act out of fear, pride, and disbelief leading to betrayal, denial, desertion, deceit, collaboration, and the justification of violence.”

Read the rest of the essay here.

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