Luke 23:1-49 (ESV)
26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.
It had played out just as he said. The scribes and chief priests performed their parts to perfection, as did the gentiles. The tragedy was epic: jealousy and cruelty married to attack an innocence that was as far from them as the east is from the west. Some in the wedding party began to grasp the weight of their error when it was over. Dumbfounded by the magnitude of the injustice they still did not fully grasp, his followers could only look on.
Everyone knew something was very wrong; but, it’s cosmic scale would have to wait a couple of days to dawn. Even then, the significance of what they had witnessed would elude them until God the Holy Spirit made it clear.
And with that, everything changed. Jesus’ death, that cosmic inflection point, changed the course of all human history for all humans in history.
He had told them about these things. He had told them they would be treated just like he was; he had told them the servant would receive no better treatment than the master. And he has told us the same things. Have you been listening?
Our Lent together is done. Christian, rise tomorrow knowing you too will rise from the dead one day. For we follow Jesus to turn aside from the familiar, to suffer injustice, to feel rejection, to die, and then to rise again; what else could it mean?
Ah, but tomorrow, tomorrow we shall recognize him standing next to us and cry Rabboni from the depth of our hearts. We shall sprint to seek him at the news of his presence; we shall cast off our outer garments to swim furiously to the shore where he waits; we shall stare into his face, confess him Lord, and not be blinded!