I recall years ago watching the film “Fatal Attraction.” Dan and Beth are happily married with a little girl. One weekend, when Beth is away, Dan has an affair with a woman he meets through work, called Alex. Dan saw it as being over, but Alex didn’t. In a series of increasingly threatening actions, and possessed by murderous jealousy, Alex tries to kill both Dan and Beth.
Murderous jealousy was what Pilate saw in the chief priests of Jerusalem. He knew that all their high-sounding talk about religion (“this man claims he is the Son of God”) and politics (“this man claims he is the King of Israel”) was window dressing. They wanted what Jesus had: his popularity, his charism, his miraculous power, his faultless wisdom. They probably knew he was the Messiah, but didn’t like him because he didn’t suit their wants. They wanted to be their own Messiahs.
They cleverly manipulate the hosannas of the people and, in a matter of a few days, turn them into cries of crucifixion. They didn’t care for the people, of course; they thought them to be rabble. But they needed the rabble to get rid of Jesus.
They also knew how to manipulate Pilate. If he did not crucify Jesus, he would be no friend of Caesar’s! Pilate was too greedy of his own power to have the courage to do the right thing. So the poisonous combination of cowardice and greed made Jesus expendable.
Murderous jealousy was the sin of Satan. First, he was jealous of the Son of God. When that got him expulsion from the presence of God, he tried it again on mankind. This time, he succeeded. Without lifting a finger, he got our first parents to commit spiritual suicide by convincing them to be jealous of God, too. It’s no surprise, then, that he reappears with a vengeance at the time of Christ’s trial. He must have felt vindicated as he saw Christ humiliated and mount the Cross.
But it never entered his head that however cunning he might be, Christ was more cunning still. For the very murder of Jesus that he so desperately wanted turned out to be Satan’s own suicide. Christ’s death was not the victory of death, but its defeat. By dying, you might say, Christ put the apple back on the tree and, in the process, reversed the curse which original sin had brought.
Christ’s loud cry in dying was his hosanna of victory to the Father. One day, we will all hear that cry again as he raises us from our graves, when death will be no more. Christ’s crucifixion was Satan’s fatal attraction.