Monday, May 8, 2017

who's to blame?

(written by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today: Luke 23:13-25
Just a few years ago, the movie The Passion of the Christ generated a firestorm of controversy. It was brutal, it was graphic, it was almost unwatchable (then again, so was a real crucifixion.) But perhaps the biggest criticism was that this movie was somehow anti-Semitic and would generate hatred towards the Jewish people. After all, the Gospel writers don't exactly paint a flattering picture of the Jewish leaders. All sorts of groups and leagues and critics feared that people would walk out of that film, looking for revenge on Jews.
The question of blame kept showing up. Who really was responsible for the crucifixion?
Who Put Jesus Christ on the Cross?
In today's reading, we meet all sorts of candidates: Pilate, the chief priests, the mob. We've already read about other blameworthy people: Judas, the Roman soldiers, false witnesses. Even Peter and the rest of the disciples don't come off looking too good when things get tough. The question is, would any of us really have done any better?
As much as we would love to distance ourselves from all those who scorned, mocked, denied, sentenced, betrayed and ultimately crucified Jesus- we can’t. Why? All these "villains" are really just a composite representative of all of humanity. There is a little bit of Pilate and Judas and Peter and Caiphas and Roman soldier and frenzied mob in each of us.
It is essential that we own up to our own part, taking all of Scripture into account, and see the sovereignty of God in the cross. Ultimately, it wasn't Judas, who betrayed Him. It wasn't the High Priests that condemned Him. It wasn't the false witnesses that poured out lies. It wasn't Pilate who spinelessly sentence Him. It wasn't the mob that demanded His death. It wasn't the Roman soldiers who mocked and beat and crucified Him. It wasn't even the devil who conspired against the Son of God.
It was you. It was me. My sin, your sin. Our sin demanded "Crucify!"
The best evidence for this is found in the clearest passage about Jesus in the Old Testament: Isaiah 53:4-6. Notice the pronouns in this amazing passage:
Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
The only people I see in this passage are you and me. The Word of God makes it clear that each one of us has sinned. The Word of God also makes it clear that Jesus Christ died for sinners. The questions remain: Have I owned up to my own sin? Do I realize that I am personally responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ?
In a world that continues to play the blame game- let's be willing to stand up and say "It was me.  I did it!" Until we do so, we cannot understand the cross of Christ.

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