Thursday, October 22, 2009


Luke 23:13-43

Reading about the crucifixion of Jesus tonight. My thoughts are all over the place. I’ve been sitting trying to make sense out of all the things that are flying through my mind. Finally, I concluded that this text gives me a peek at just how evil the human heart can be. I don’t think anyone would disagree when I say that the crucifixion of Jesus was the most heinous crime in all of human history. And when I look at how it was finally accomplished it leaves me with a feeling of frightened discomfort.

Pilate really wants to release Jesus. Now that doesn’t make him a good man. It’s hard to tell why he was so committed to doing the right thing here. I’ve always wondered just how much his wife’s dream affected him. She told him to have nothing to do with “that innocent man” because her dream had caused her great suffering. Perhaps he didn’t want to give the Jews what they wanted. Whatever his reason was, Pilate found himself trying to do the right thing even if it was through bad motives.

He tells the Jews that their charges were groundless. He had examined Jesus in front of the rulers of the people and found that Jesus did not incite insurrection. Therefore he had done nothing against Roman law. Herod returned Jesus to Pilate because he wasn’t concerned that Jesus was going to wrest his kingdom from him. Pilate would punish Jesus and let him go.

But the leaders of the Jews incited the crowd. That is obvious because it says the people cried out “with one voice.” In other words, they had been coached or even threatened. They called for the release of Barabbas. Here is the beginning of the frightening phenomenon called a “mob.” Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate tried to reason with them but you can’t reason with a mob. A mob takes on a life of its own. Pilate tried one more time. “Why should I have him crucified? What crime has he committed? There are no grounds for execution!” No good. The mob continued to shout and threaten and Pilate stopped trying to do the right thing. By this time all he cared about was controlling the situation as best he could.

Pilate released Barabbas. Then he did something that sends shivers up my spine. Did you ever notice these words before? He “surrendered Jesus to their will!” The hatred of the Jews is awful; awful in the truest sense of the word. They abused their power and stirred up the people to cry for Jesus’ crucifixion. They pressured Pilate and bent him to do what they wanted. It was “their will” to kill Jesus! The will of men can be so horrifyingly evil!

Jesus was exchanged for Barabbas who was probably the real insurrectionist. He had blood on his hands and deserved to die for his crimes. In effect, Jesus substituted for Barabbas and died on his cross. In reality, Jesus substituted for me and died on my cross! My heart was no cleaner than the hearts of those who called for his death. I need to be careful to see myself in this event. He who had no sin became sin for us who deserve death. The words of the criminal crucified beside Jesus come to mind, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Jesus died in my place and suffered the justice for my sin so I could know grace and mercy. He gave me his righteousness so that God could be just when he welcomes me into his presence!


At 11:25 PM, Blogger Anne of The House said...

What one of us can say that we really grasp the bigness of sin? No matter how much we know of ourselves.. of our own hearts...or no matter what we can see in history- the true state of things eludes us because of what's inside of us. All that said- I wonder what kind of place the world would be, even though we're sinful, if we could just live as we ought. How much poverty would there be in the world? How much of a need would there be for money... we'd all work and trade generously. But that would mean we would be able to trust each other. Oh wait. But we can't do that now. So much of our effort is spent protecting ourselves. See what I mean? Sin is so deep and so much a part of me and my existence that I can't imagine a world without it!
No matter how wildly I might try to think.

Someday- there will be no more sin. It is fact.
Makes me want to think more. Doesn't it you?

What do you think will be the biggest change in a sinless existence?

At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Angela said...

We would all love one another like our children.


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