It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Death of An Innocent Man, a Reflection on Luke 23:13-56

Although neither he nor Herod could find any evidence that Jesus had done anything deserving the death penalty, Pilate gave in to the demands of the crowd and turned Jesus over for crucifixion.

But not all the crowd. Luke tells us that as he was led away that among the people following him, were women who were mourning loudly. Jesus offered them reassurance. One of the criminals being executed beside him challenged him, "If you are the Messiah, then prove it by saving yourself--and us." But the other one expressed his belief and asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom. Jesus said to him, "Today you will be with me in Paradise."

At noon when we expect direct sunlight on us, instead a darkness came over the whole land for three hours. The curtain of the temple was torn in two--opening access to an approach to the Lord that had not been possible before. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." Unlike in Mark's gospel, there is no expression of despair (Mk 15:34).

His death brings immediate response. A Roman soldier says aloud that Jesus was innocent of the crimes charged against him. The crowd disperses, but his acquaintances remain watching what is happened--although they are at a distance. (Boring & Craddock, in their People's New Testament Commentary, point out another difference between Luke's gospel and Mark's: "Luke replaces Mark's christological affirmation (15:39) with a political judgment. Rome recognizes that Jesus' death was a great miscarriage of justice...."

Luke reminds us that among those that had followed Jesus on the way from Galilee to Jerusalem included women, When Joseph of Arimathea asks and receives permission from Pilate to bury Jesus, these women follow him to the tomb.

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