The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion

Crucifixion - Carl Bloch

Crucifixion - Carl Bloch

It was Good Friday. I was in Guildford and it was one of those very rare occasions when Holy Trinity is open. Therefore I popped in.

On the door was a notice asking for quiet as Easter Meditation. I walked in trying to be quiet, such was my level of concentration that I smashed my knee on one of the wooden seats and created a racket.

I found myself at The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. It was a very moving service and sadly I missed the first five minutes. I missed the silent procession.

Part-way through we were all asked to come forward, light a candle and place it at the foot of the cross.

My thoughts strayed to Ash Wednesday en La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia en Puerto de la Cruz en Tenerife. Then I looked through the open door into the sunlit street outside. Today I was able to do the same, the sunlit street outside, opposite was Abbot’s Hospital, founded by George Abbot, one of the translators of the King James Bible.

My thoughts strayed to the last words of Jesus on the cross, I thirst.

He was offered sour wine. Vinegar can be sour wine, but it does not follow that sour wine is vinegar. Too often I must admit I have been offered sour wine by people who buy cheap plonk.

The gesture by the soldiers is often seen as the last insult, but was it, was it not an act of kindness? To parched lips, even sour wine would have been a blessing. Canon Stephen Cottrell in ‘I Thirst’, a meditation on Easter, suggests what was offered was posca, a mix of beaten eggs, wine, vinegar and water, an opiate to dull the pain.

John provides us with a lot of details, which gives an air of authenticity, or was it rather to fulfill what had been foretold in Scripture?

John appears to have got his dates in a muddle. He says this was the start of Passover, whereas the other gospel writers place the Last Supper as taking place at Passover. And by tradition we assume they are one and the same otherwise a lot of the symbolism is lost.

I asked Canon Robert Cotton about this anomaly. One possible explanation is they were using different calenders and this may explain the problem. Giving the matter some thought I decided this does not resolve the problem. If it was a discrepancy on dates, then yes, but Passover is a very important fixture in the Jewish Calender. No writer at the time would be confused as to when an event took place in relationship to Passover irrespective of the actual calender date.

I humbly offer a different explanation. By putting the Crucifixion at the start of Passover, John very cleverly has Jesus dying on the cross at just the moment the sacrificial lamb is slaughtered. This does of course then raise the problem of Jesus alluding to his own death at Passover if it has not yet happened.

It is a conundrum.

Top story in The starleigh_grass Daily (Saturday 23 April 2011).

‘I Thirst’
Holy Week
The First Easter Week Musing
Quema de Palmitos
Ash Wednesday
Passover supper
Maundy Thursday
The Cross
Crucifixion or Corpus Hypercubus
Christ of Saint John of the Cross

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