Luke 22: 66 and Luke 23: 25
At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”
Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.” So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.” On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends-before this they had been enemies.
Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.
Here is what Paul has to say (Philippians 2:6-8):
Though his state was that of God, yet he did not deem equality with God, something he should cling to.
Rather, he emptied himself, and assuming the state of a slave, he was born in human likeness.
He, being known as one of us, humbled himself, obedient unto death, even death on the cross.
In this beautiful hymn, Paul recognizes that Jesus had only one “operational mode.” Everything he did, he did by self-emptying. He emptied himself and descended into human form. And he emptied himself still further “even unto death on the cross.” In every life circumstance Jesus always responded with the same motion of self-emptying – or to put it another way descent, taking the lower place not the higher. (Cynthia Bourgeault)
Again and again Jesus tells us followers to take up our crosses and follow him, to leave everything behind and follow him. This emptying of oneself of everything from our past frees us to be filled by Abba, to be reborn, refashioned and transformed by Abba. With Paul we can say it is no longer I that live but Christ that lives in me. In Christ we are a new creation.
Come Holy Spirit, like Jesus we empty ourselves, Come Holy Spirit, like Jesus we sacrifice ourselves. Come Holy Spirit, create us anew. Amen.
Noon Day Prayers Question
At noon hanging on the cross, his vitality leaking away and overwhelmed with agony, Jesus went through the dark night of his soul, a night so dark he could no longer experience God. You too have had your moments, your dark nights of the soul and perhaps these moments have marked you forever, or so it might seem.
Surrender yourself, your past dark nights, your fear and doubt, surrender yourself now and ask of God “Will you always be with me, even when I cannot realize that you are?”
Sit quietly with this for a while…
Luke 23: 26 – 49
As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
The women of Jerusalem wailed at the execution of the prophet from Galilee who had healed and transformed so many. Two criminals showed the contrast between anger out of pain and faith enough to see past man’s machinations to the Messiah.
The killers of Jesus, the Hebrew authorities, continued in their ranting and triumphant jeering at him only to be confounded by the eclipse of the sun and the tearing of the curtain of the temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the people. I can imagine that some of them would be trembling saying “what have we done!”
The crowd over the 6 hours of his crucifixion was transformed from jeering and curiosity to beating their breasts and going away disheartened.
The Centurion and his soldiers carrying out the gruesome orders that was theirs to do were nonetheless impressed by the eclipse and Jesus’ presence on the cross as he suffered and died.
Finally his faithful followers, watching all this from a distance, were confounded because of all that he had said about his death and sacrifice. Grief-stricken as they watched their beloved teacher cruelly and slowly murdered on the cross, they were also awed by the eclipse.
What does this all mean? What does this all mean? What does this all mean?