Updated: Feb 5
Imagine a Middle Eastern man. A man claiming to be the Messiah, King of the Jews, living in a town where they rejected him — in fact, they wanted him killed.
By now, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin have decided Jesus’ outcome, and the conversation shifts to give him a chance to speak and save himself before Pilate.
When it’s his turn to speak, Jesus says next to nothing, only “Yes, it is as you say,” when asked “Are you the king of the Jews?” He's pushes back on Pilates’ own words.
As more questions arise, Jesus stays silent.
The control of the conversation shifts once again, when Pilate then offers the crowd a say, asking them questions he already knows the answers to.
“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?”
“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?”
Pilate then satisfies the crowds, by releasing a murderous man instead. And for Jesus, the crowds answer back in their rage with the same refrain: “Crucify Him! Crucify him!”
He’s led off to be mocked and tortured before his death, by a whole company of soldiers.
This whole verdict dictates freedom or death; from the soft, restless whispers between Pilate and Jesus to the taunting shouts of rage and vitriol from the crowds. The verdict in seems too powerful over the stumbling, bleeding and beaten Messiah who is preparing for death.
The verdict in seems too powerful over the stumbling, bleeding and beaten Messiah who is preparing for death.
This moment reminds me of the scene in Black Panther, when Killmonger asks the people of Wakanda, “Is this your king?” just before he throws T'challa over a cliff. The end seems confusing and hopeless.
Remember the Middle Eastern man we talked about at the beginning?
Now imagine this same man being rejected, mocked, and abused. What kind of a god would allow those horrible things to be done to his own son?
A kind of god who watched us spit in his son’s face. Who watched us mock him, beat him, and prepare to crucify him.
But a kind of god who thought we were worth that cost anyway. The God who loved you.
You see, what I most admire about Jesus’ story is this; His is the only one I know, in which the Hero dies for the villain.
Jesus had every right to cry out “JUSTICE!” to his Father when the crowd determined is path to crucifixion.
But it’s in this bloodied and bruised face of Jesus that we find the strength of a Savior. He winces while they crush his head with blow after blow after blow, just to adorn his wounds with a crown of piercing thorns. And these, his torturers, are the ones he dies for.
Who would do this for us? For you and for me?
Who would consider us worthy to take on even a fraction of this kind of punishment?
And just like that, with more to be done if he is to take on the brokenness of the whole world, Jesus is lead like a lamb to slaughter to be crucified, just as the crowd had wanted.
1. Like the crowd in this passage, scripture says, at a time, we were enemies of God (Romans 5:10). What does it look like for us to acknowledge our own rejection of Jesus at times?
2. Imagine if this story were about your own son, would you let him die for his accuser? Why or why not? How does this compare to the weight of what God allows for Jesus to endure from us?
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