In the wake of one of the most controversial weeks in Australian sporting history, Shane Warne was out in the press today and bowling this delivery,
“You shouldn’t crucify someone unless they deserve to be crucified.”
By this, Shane Warne is suggesting that the punishment being hand out to the guilty players is excessive.
“We are all so hurt and angry and maybe we weren’t so sure how to react. We’d just never seen it before.
But the jump to hysteria is something that has elevated the offence beyond what they actually did, and maybe we’re at a point where the punishment just might not fit the crime.”
I actually think Warnie has written a thoughtful piece. He doesn’t minimise the actions of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, and he is asking for Australians not to over react.
“I am still trying to wrestle with what I think the punishment should be. They have to be harsh, but if they are rubbed out for a year, the punishment does not fit the crime.
Let’s take the emotion out of it. We are all feeling angry and embarrassed. But you need a level head and you shouldn’t destroy someone unless they deserve to be destroyed.
Their actions were indefendable, and they need to be severely punished. But I don’t think a one-year ban is the answer.
My punishment would have been to miss the fourth Test match, a huge fine, and be sacked as captain and vice-captain.”
It seems though that Shane Warne has a thing for the word, ‘crucified’. In the lead up to the 2013 Ashes series he called for English batsman, Joe Root, to be crucified,
“They could be crucifying him”.
I’m pretty sure Joe Root wasn’t guilt of ball tampering. In fact, Warnie was simply doing what Aussie cricketers have a habit of doing, and that is, tossing a googly into the head of an opposition player: If I suggest that Root is vulnerable to our fast bowlers, then he might begin to think it also.
Warnie’s analogy couldn’t be more fitting, because this weekend happens to be Easter. On the very same day, on the Thursday, crowds had gathered at a courtroom in Jerusalem, and there they denounced an innocent man, and called for his crucifixion. The Roman Governor acknowledged the man’s innocence, and he tried to bargain with the mob.
“15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.”
The plan backfired and Pontius Pilate was forced to release Barabbas and instead sentence the innocent man to death on a cross.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” (Matthew 27)
When we Australians found out what our nation’s cricketers had done, we were angry and disappointed. They had not only broken the rules of our national game, they had failed us as a country, and made Australian sport a mockery around the globe. I’ve also noticed how this sad affair has driven to the fore of the nation’s consciousness the fact that there is a thing called right and wrong, and that right and wrong matters, and such a distinction exists even on the cricket pitch.
Easter is all about the innocent been crucified in the place of the guilty. What is right? No, and yes. The crowds persuaded Pilate to kill Jesus because they were vindictive and couldn’t tolerate what Jesus stood for. The idea that Jesus claimed to be God gave them an insatiable desire for blood. At the same time, God ordained the cross because he is loving and merciful. For you see, God made the world with purpose and design. There are rules, and everyday we break them. Should there not be consequences?
Easter demonstrated to the world that there is consequence and it is weightier than a 12 month suspension. But the God who exists is not only utterly holy and hates those who bend and break the rules, he also loves the very same people.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit”. (1 Peter 3:18)
Shane Warne was right, we shouldn’t crucify someone who is undeserving, and yet that is exactly what Jesus volunteered to do. Next time we talk about crucifying someone, perhaps we should also remember the One who was crucified for us.