Posted by George Morrison

Cast your mind back to the playground. You are 4 and already well versed in name-calling. It was a gift to your art if the other’s name rhymed with a rude word. Now imagine you have a Nigerian classmate called Toyosi Shitta-bey! You are glad you are Irish, white and speak with the local accent. Even so you don’t like it when you are called names, when you have done something different, stood out from the pack. Then you crave the anonymity of the herd. The safety of sameness! Roll on 11 years and your classmate has survived the name calling. This would have become more sophisticated, developing along ethnic lines. Toyosi has now become a talented footballer. His ability distinguished him from the rest and a note of jealousy has added flavour to the language. His colour meant that his friends tended to be black and this provided an easy pigeon hole in which white prejudice could be placed. His 5 friends could only look on with astonishment as Toyosi was fatally knifed on Good Friday by two older Irishmen.  We may never know what was said, what gesture provoked the attack or was it simply eye contact that created the offence?  Evil needs little justification. Merely to exist can be sufficient motive. Jesus Christ was always going to be an easy target. The main difficulty the powers that be had in disposing of him was his popularity with the people. There was also the ease with which he handled questions and told parables most of them with a double meaning which showed them in a bad light. Then there were the miracles. Not counterfeit ones that could easily be discredited. These were well known people who were healed. He was so different. He was undermining the establishment which they loved. He had seen through their hollow power structure. He was dismantling their man made religion. He must be stopped! And so it was on that first Good Friday “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities: upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed”. “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteousness for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (Isaiah 53 and 1 Peter ch.3 v 18) We who are evil by nature need to reach out to the nail pierced hands of the only One who can “present us faultless before His Fathers throne”. (Jude 24). His salvation is the only one which can permanently unite young and old, rich and poor, black and white because those who truly trust in Him are, by His grace, radically changed to love one another.