Holy Week - Day 6
Then the entire council took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor. 2 They began to state their case: “This man has been leading our people astray by telling them not to pay their taxes to the Roman government and by claiming he is the Messiah, a king.”
3 So Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus replied, “You have said it.”
4 Pilate turned to the leading priests and to the crowd and said, “I find nothing wrong with this man!”
5 Then they became insistent. “But he is causing riots by his teaching wherever he goes—all over Judea, from Galilee to Jerusalem!”
6 “Oh, is he a Galilean?” Pilate asked. 7 When they said that he was, Pilate sent him to Herod Antipas, because Galilee was under Herod’s jurisdiction, and Herod happened to be in Jerusalem at the time.
8 Herod was delighted at the opportunity to see Jesus, because he had heard about him and had been hoping for a long time to see him perform a miracle. 9 He asked Jesus question after question, but Jesus refused to answer. 10 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the teachers of religious law stood there shouting their accusations. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers began mocking and ridiculing Jesus. Finally, they put a royal robe on him and sent him back to Pilate. 12 (Herod and Pilate, who had been enemies before, became friends that day.)
13 Then Pilate called together the leading priests and other religious leaders, along with the people, 14 and he announced his verdict. “You brought this man to me, accusing him of leading a revolt. I have examined him thoroughly on this point in your presence and find him innocent. 15 Herod came to the same conclusion and sent him back to us. Nothing this man has done calls for the death penalty. 16 So I will have him flogged, and then I will release him.”
18 Then a mighty roar rose from the crowd, and with one voice they shouted, “Kill him, and release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas was in prison for taking part in an insurrection in Jerusalem against the government, and for murder.) 20 Pilate argued with them, because he wanted to release Jesus. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
22 For the third time he demanded, “Why? What crime has he committed? I have found no reason to sentence him to death. So I will have him flogged, and then I will release him.”
23 But the mob shouted louder and louder, demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate sentenced Jesus to die as they demanded. 25 As they had requested, he released Barabbas, the man in prison for insurrection and murder. But he turned Jesus over to them to do as they wished.
26 As they led Jesus away, a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, happened to be coming in from the countryside. The soldiers seized him and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large crowd trailed behind, including many grief-stricken women. 28 But Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the days are coming when they will say, ‘Fortunate indeed are the women who are childless, the wombs that have not borne a child and the breasts that have never nursed.’ 30 People will beg the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and plead with the hills, ‘Bury us.’ 31 For if these things are done when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. 33 When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”[f] And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
35 The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. 37 They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”
40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
44 By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 45 The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. 46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.
47 When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” 48 And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow. 49 But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.
50 Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph. He was a member of the Jewish high council, 51 but he had not agreed with the decision and actions of the other religious leaders. He was from the town of Arimathea in Judea, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come. 52 He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a long sheet of linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock. 54 This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation, as the Sabbath was about to begin.
55 As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.
Worship the Crucified Lord
In Luke 23, Jesus is taken from the Jewish court to the Roman court. The Jewish elites have already decided to kill the blasphemer who made Himself equal with God. These 1st Century Jews are not legally allowed to perform the death penalty, so they make up lies before the Roman governor to get Him crucified. But Pilate is not so easily fooled. He says three times, “I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him.”
The main theme of the whole narrative is that Jesus was innocent. One of the criminals crucified beside Jesus rebuked the other criminal for mocking Jesus: “We are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” Even the Centurion who tacked Him on the cross declared, “Certainly this man was innocent!” The Gospel of Matthew adds that even Jesus’ betrayer (Judas) hanged himself (Matt. 27:3-10).
How is it that all of these people complicit in the death of Jesus, even the very people who put Him on the cross, tell us that this man is innocent? This trial and crucifixion is ironic indeed. His supposed enemies are those who proclaim the loudest that this man is trustworthy. His murders write for us a letter of recommendation. Where is your faith? These who killed Jesus have a message for you; they want to tell you to trust this man. They know only a little about Him, but they know enough to persuade us to trust what He did and said.
But the story draws us deeper. Those women. Those blessed women. They followed Jesus from Galilee and all the way to the cross where they wept for Him (Luke 23:27). They are the last standing disciples. They are shameless. The Apostles have fled. The church is all but dead, and there they stand, weeping. They loved Him till the end. They went even to the tomb so that they could bring back the proper ointments for his burial (23:55-56). They don’t simply declare His innocence; they declare their love for Him and prove it in their deeds. They are the only ones in the church who receive the honor of following Jesus when He can give nothing in return. He is dead! Run you fools! Their adoration is illogical, but thus is their love. They will not be departed from Him, even in His death.
Jesus is innocent, yes, and even His enemies knew it. This story does more for us, however. Let the crucified Jesus be your Lord. Even before His resurrection, Jesus is worthy of our adoration. Even when Jesus cannot give us anything, He is worthy of our worship. These women show us the most proper response to the events of Good Friday–adore Him.