The following is an excerpt from our weekly Lenten Devotional written by N.T. Wright.

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Look’, said Pilate, ‘here is your king!’

‘Take him away!’ they shouted. ‘Take him away! Crucify him!’

‘Do you want me to crucify your king?’ asked Pilate.

‘We have no king’, the chief priests replied, ‘except Caesar!’

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

John 19:14-16, Kingdom New Testament

By 6:00 P.M. on the first Good Friday, the world was a different place. That may sound very odd, but that is what the first Christians said again and again. They said things like ‘on the cross Jesus disarmed the principalities and powers and led them in a captor’s triumph making a public example of it’. It didn’t look like that on the evening of the first Good Friday but as they looked back, that’s what they said had happened. They said that that day a revolution had begun.

There is a famous story (I wish I knew which archbishop it was that it concerned) that concerns a Roman Catholic archbishop who told the story of three naughty young lads who one day for a laugh went into a Catholic Church and went into the confessional one by one and confessed to all sorts of outrageous sins that they claimed they had committed. The priest being an experienced guide saw through them quite quickly. And the first two lads ran out of the church laughing but the priest hung on to the third one and said, ‘Okay, you have confessed these sins. I want you to do a penance. I want you to walk up to the far end of the church and I want you to look at the picture of Jesus hanging on the cross, and I want you to look at his face and say, “You did all that for me and I don’t care that much.” And I want you to do that three times’.

And so the boy went up to the front, looked at the picture of Jesus and said, ‘You did all that for me and I don’t care that much’. And then he said it again, but then he couldn’t say it the third time because he broke down in tears. And the archbishop telling the story said, the reason I know that story is that I was that young man. There is something about the cross. Something about Jesus dying there for us which leaps over all the theoretical discussions, all the possibilities of how we explain it this way or that way and it grasps us. And when we are grasped by it, somehow we have a sense that what is grasping us is the love of God.

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Prof. N.T. Wright is currently Research Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Early Christianity at St Mary’s College in the University of St Andrews and Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.