24 March 2013Luke 23:1-49
"All his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things." (v.49)
It is the practice in many churches to read the whole of the story of Jesus' passion and death on the Sunday before Easter. The story is powerful and even overwhelming when read in this way. Today we are focusing on the second half of the account in Luke's Gospel which covers Jesus' trial and death.
A group of Jesus' friends stood back from the crowd watching the crucifixion. In the group were the women who had been close to Jesus. What does Luke's Gospel tell us about what the women saw?
- They saw the consequences of a massive miscarriage of justice. Jesus is innocent and condemned because of the weakness of Herod and Pilate (verses 1-12). Mob rule won the day (verses 13-25). What we read about the trial and death of Jesus is like the plot of a psychological thriller unfolding. The innocent main character, Jesus, is unable to make people hear what he is saying. It is deeply frustrating to watch the performances of the other characters: Herod, Pilate, the crowd, the soldiers and the criminals on the crosses next to Jesus - they all got it so wrong!
- They saw Jesus heading for what looked like failure and defeat. At every turn Jesus was let down by his friends, by the politicians and by his peers. Things were not working out in the way people closest to him had hoped they would.
- They saw and heard Jesus' response to this massive injustice. As he hung dying on the cross he said, "Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (v. 34).
- They saw the centurion who stood at the foot of the cross and observed all that was said and done and heard him say, "Certainly this man was innocent." (v. 47).
What they were witnessing was the coming of God's kingdom on earth and in heaven, exactly how Jesus said it would.
- What miscarriages of justice are you seeing or hearing about today? In what ways does this part of the story of Jesus' arrest trial and death speak into what is happening now?
- Abide with this story, allow it to fill your imagination: what new insights into Jesus' passion and death are you noticing?