What Jesus Didn't Do
Rev. Michael A. Trask
As I read passion of Christ according to St. Luke. I was amazed by what Jesus did and said. But I was equally amazed by what he didn’t say.
Starting in Gethsemane, He knew what was coming and he prayed “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me., nevertheless not my will but yours.” I compared this to how we would react given a similar situation. We may start with the thy will be done stuff because we know we should but a completely different thread would run parallel in our mind. “What did I do to deserve this, oh God? I’ve been a good person, this isn’t fair.” If anyone ever had the right to ask that question in that moment, it was Jesus, for he had done nothing wrong. He was without sin. He didn’t deserve this.
And with the tensions as high as they were in Jerusalem at that time, if we were Jesus we wouldn’t have gone to our regular place to pray. We probably would have hit the road that night and gone north as quickly as we can. Who could fault us for sparing our innocent lives. But Jesus went to his usual place, made himself available. Did not run from the detachment of soldiers that came to arrest him. Strange.
And at his arrest, His fisherman friends said “Lord shall we strike with our swords?” One of them lopped off an ear of one of high priests guards. Again, if it were us, being arrested by some corrupt servants of a corrupt priest we would have welcomed the suggestion that we go down fighting. But Jesus said “No more of this!” and he would perform his last miracle by fixing the ear of an enemy.
When he followed Jesus to the high priest’s house, Peter was more in tune with how we would react. He was asked if he was with Jesus. Sensing the imminent danger to his person he denied it. He could argue it was better for him to remain under cover so that he could fight Jesus at another time. The human mind is very adept at excusing itself from it’s allegiances and duties. But then rooster crowed.
Then they started beating on Jesus, blindfolding him and punching him in the face saying “Prophesy! Who hit you.” He was Jesus, he easily would know who hit him. What do you think would have happened if he answered…. blow for blow calling out the names and hometowns, and children names to each guard who struck him. How intimidating would that be? They would have quit beating him immediately for the spookiness of it.
Shortly thereafter the chief priests and scribes asked him if he was the Son of God. He did not deny it. He told the truth. he could have tricked them with some semantics. Are you the son of God? They asked, he could have simply said, “I prefer to to refer to myself as the Son of Man.” Which would be true….but it would be enough to get him off.
Then Pilate kept stating the obvious. “I find no guilt in this man” and then “I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him.” and then again when they called for his crucifixion “Why what evil has he done?” All of what Pilate said was true. He had done no evil. But he was getting no encouragement or help from Jesus. Again, if we were in this position we would look Pilate in the eyes and we’d say “I’m innocent! Help me!” I think Pilate would be motivated enough to stop it.. But Jesus did none of that. Quietly he went to judgment in pilates court.
And then when they nailed him and hoisted him up he says “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” How easy it would have been for him to say “Do you know who I am…If you did you’d be very afraid. If he said it right, he just might get them to have some second thoughts…. and if not that, then at least give them nightmares for the next 20 years. But instead Jesus said “forgive” “Forgive them.”
It has been said that if you really want to see what someone is made of, watch them when they are put under stress. We’ve watched him, and what do we see? We see a man who thought not of himself but of others. We see a man who was merciful, willing to forgive even those who abused him. We see a man who respected authority even when the authority in question was corrupt. We see a man who was obedient to the Father to the point of death.
So very odd is Jesus’ behavior in the eyes of man; foreign to our understanding; alien even. We don’t think like this we don’t usually act like this. And that is precisely why we needed him. He is something other than us. We are sinful, disobedient, self-centered, self-interested, vengeful, greedy, unloving. With Jesus, God set out to make changes.
He didn’t defend himself against the broken justice of the Priest, or Pilate or Herod because there was a higher court at work. In the courts of heaven, God the father had laid all the charges against humanity on Jesus. That’s the cup that Jesus was referring to in gethsemane. The cup he agreed to drink. Standing in for all of us, he would represent the entire human race, just as the Prophets said he would. So he did not defend himself. He did not run away. But rather He made himself available to those who would make him suffer and die. He did all this, because he was thinking about you and me.
Pilate couldn’t make sense of it. Jesus seemed like such a dolt to him. At the outset, the thieves who mocked him and the people that spit on him, and the people that make fun of him even today think that Jesus is a buffoon and a easy target for mockery. But they don’t know about the higher court. They don’t know the that God has chosen the one to die for the many. They did not know that he was suffering in our place. They see the fool, but they don’t see the love and the life and the eternity that’s in play.
We see all this by faith we rejoice in the fact that the courts of heaven are satisfied with atonement he made. God holds nothing against us. Which means we don’t have to constantly covering our backsides, in an attempt to justify our existence. We can simply confess and claim the forgiveness we have in Jesus. AMEN