And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. (Luke 23.48-49)
For most of the people there the entertainment was over. Well, it began like entertainment but it finished rather differently and they are glad to escape. There was no sense that this was a job well done, a good days work. All of a sudden they realised what had happened; they woke up to the facts. Just a few days ago the crowd had been so happy to see Jesus arrive. The people had been singing and dancing round in the street, gathering to hear every word that he had to say, glad that he was challenging so much and so many people. Then the mood had changed and they had been caught up in that. Now, as they slouched off, it felt as if they had been used, manipulated, as though they too had been pawns in a bigger game.
They remembered what they had shouted just a few hours before
‘His blood be on us and on our children.’
What had they been saying? What madness had come upon them?
What madness comes upon us when we are used by others, when we agree to something we would never really agree to? What madness comes upon us when we nod a wrong decision through, when we acquiesce to something – well, just for the sake of it? What madness comes upon us when we allow a racist, a sexist, a homophobic comment to pass without challenge? What madness comes upon us when we cry with the crowd, ‘His blood be on us and on our children’ and then we look at our children?
Jesus, Lamb of God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, bearer of our sins, have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world, grant us peace.