Horrible and wonderful. Reading Luke 23, I am reminded of what Jesus went through and yet also why He did it.
The accusations that the Pharisees made against Jesus that He was misleading, turning people away from Ceasar, and pretending to be King are interesting to look at from Jesus’ perspective. The Pharisees were actually misleading people by trying to provide false information to get Him arrested. They were leading people away from God, and missing the King that had been promised for centuries because they wanted to keep peace with the Roman ruler. Jesus may have stirred up the people, but they were attempting to start a mob.
Pilate hears “Galilee” and realizes that he can get out of an uncomfortable situation. Herod is actually glad to see Jesus coming. He had beheaded John the Baptist, and been sorry for it, but was confused as to this new religious figure, and had been wanting to see Him. Jesus is reduced to a magician in Herod’s eyes, and when He doesn’t cooperate, Herod dresses Him up as a king for a joke. The irony.
Herod and Pilate, now on friendly terms, exchange this prisoner once more. The Pharisees demand that a murderer is released so that injustice can be given to Jesus the Just.
The King was mocked. He had a chance to prove Himself by coming down from the cross, much like His temptation with Satan (Luke 4). But He would not come down. The King bled, and prayed for their forgiveness. They don’t know what they are doing. What if they had suddenly been given that insight? Knowledge is horrible sometimes, when the scales drop out of your eyes and you can see things as they really are. God always has that perspective, and He freely forgives. Even the thief crucified next to Him. They would both be going to Paradise.
A crushing darkness at noon. The curtain in the temple reminding everyone of the thick separation of man and God tore from the top, and Jesus, although feeling forsaken, committed His Spirit to God.
And then its all over. A Centurion says He was innocent. A Pharisee sees Him buried well. Friends come from their distant watching to put His body in a tomb before they go back to the Law’s prescribed rule of rest. And the new is gone, and the old doesn’t fit.
We don’t pause at this spot very often, acknowledging the despair. What if there were life without Jesus? In that moment, He had died, and maybe it was for a bigger reason, but He’s just like anyone else. Very long days.
Throughout the chapter, Jesus is declared King, righteous, good. And each set of people is shown to have good as well as bad: the man from the crowd, the repentant thief, the Centurion who praised God, the Pharisee who did not agree to the plan.
God sees each heart, knows the other side of each circumstance, warns and promises. And He cared more for us than He did for His own life. He told them He would rise. The King would not stay buried long. But He went through the shame for us. I pray that I will never forget that.