When they came to a place called The Skull, they crucified Him there. And the criminals were also crucified—one on His right and one on His left. Luke 23:33
Who constitutes the “they”?
The Roman soldiers whose task it was to actually nail Jesus to the cross. But they were only those on the end of the line who had been ordered to do so. They were just doing their job.
Pilate was the one who had passed down the verdict despite knowing Jesus was innocent. He ought to have stood up for what was right and handed down a righteous judgement. Reminds you a bit of Luke’s righteous judge, doesn’t it? Not only that, but Pilate also represented the might of the Roman Empire. It was he who was responsible for the governance of Rome in that region of Judea. He was the procurator whose task it was to ensure that Roman law was upheld – not Jewish Law, not the will of the Sanhedrin. He went against his own wife’s advice to not have any part in this man’s death sentence but succeeded only in symbolically washing his hands of the matter. Despite doing that his name has gone down in infamy through the ages.
The Pharisees and other members of the religious rulers had been longing for this to happen with every encounter, argument or altercation they had with Jesus. They had long before set their hearts on getting rid of Him and had been seeking for ways to surreptitiously to keep their plans hidden from the masses who adored Jesus. From the moment they enlisted the help of Judas in the betrayal, they were on collision course with destiny.
Judas was included in the “they”. He had deliberately taken the decision to betray Jesus and hand him over to the “authorities”. There are many questions we could ask of his involvement. His decision to do so in the first place was dubious at best. Then the nature of his actions, were largely superfluous. It has puzzled me for a long time as to why Judas had to come up and give Jesus a kiss to identify Him. How thick were the Sanhedrin and religious leaders in Jerusalem? Maybe if Jesus had just arrived in town and they hadn’t seen or met him yet, Judas’ kiss may have been necessary. But come on, they had invited Him to lunch and dinner, had been debating with Him publicly time and again. Do you mean to say there was no one in their midst who could have identified Jesus at the moment of the arrest?
The Sanhedrin were implicated to the Nth degree. Not only were they behind the decision to have Jesus put to death. They also took great pains to ensure it happened as they wanted. The chief priest went along on the night of the arrest to “oversee” the proceedings. They followed en masse to each of the trial phases and to ensure the letter of Jewish Law was carried out with the initial Jewish phases. They were taking no chances with this man’s death. They stirred up the Jewish people with the use of rabble rousers on each occasion it looked like the trial was turning in the accused’s favour. They were “hell bent” on making sure their wishes were carried out. The members of the Sanhedrin were culpable to the max.
The Jewish people, represented by the masses, responded together with the words recorded in Matthew 27:25 And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for His death—we and our children!” and along with Luke’s recorded “But the mob shouted louder and louder, demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their voices prevailed.” (Luke 23:23) Although it is hard to make a case for all the Jewish people in Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion being guilty of Jesus’ death there is a sense in which they all were. Yes this was a mob, or mass response, but it carried weight somehow and implicated all the Jews in the event. Such that Hitler and others have taken that implication to the extreme in blaming the Jews for the death of Christ. Perhaps they are culpable because they were indeed God’s chosen people. If that is the basis of determining guilt then all the members of the Sanhedrin are exceptionally guilty because they of all people knew the Scriptures related to the Messiah and ought to have known the details of His coming but also His demise. Yet it was by their hand it happened. Incredible
We, you and me dear reader, are just as much to blame. We are on both sides of the crucifixion. We deserve the punishment Christ took for us. So we ought to be fellow sufferers in His crucifixion in that sense. But we are also equally to blame. We all share Adam’s sin and so are responsible for His death sentence. ‘All have sinned and deserve separation from the presence of God.’ Therefore, we all play a part in His death. Hebrews 6:6 “and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame” carries the implication that our sinning continues to crucify Christ in a symbolic way at least. Yes dear reader, you are part of this too.
The whole human race is implicated – we too are part of His Own – His own creation, the work of His hands, His own people. I have explained a number of times in the Gems the significance of John 1:11 – “He came to His own but His own received Him not.”
He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him.John 1:10-11
What a hugely sad statement. Jesus, its creator, entered this world and dwelt in it and yet the creatures He created rejected him. Verse 11 repeats the thought but adds intensity to it. John very skillfully uses a Greek grammatical construction to shock his readers.
He says He (Jesus) came to His “ta idia” but his “hoi idioi” rejected Him. Wow. Effectively He came to his ‘inanimate created things’ (neuter plural objects – puppets) [his things] and after he had given them life ‘his people’ (masculine plural people) [his creation] rejected him. Imagine the scene with me. God takes the clay of the ground and fashions it into a man-shaped-object and then he takes that object and breaths life into the THING. God gives it life. He makes it into a living breathing person from inanimate clay. Imagine a table top filled with these puppet creatures who are now living, breathing and running around. He breathed life into them and then He came to them seeking relationship but they rejected Him. That is a huge thought. If I were God I know what I would have done. I would have crushed them right then and made a new lot. But God didn’t. In His great grace He allows you to reject Him. Do you see now the degree to which you too are culpable?
You too are part of the human race and therefore implicated in His crucifixion. Ponder that.
We will move on to the next word “ Crucified” in the next Gem.
The mere fact of our humanity stamps us with the taint of sin and responsibility for that sin.Ian Vail
The only place in the universe you find atheists is on earth. God lets you deny him your entire life, but then He’ll deny you.Anon
Each of us is a mixture of dust and deity.Ian Vail
Never confuse the will of the majority with the will of God.Anon
He who slings mud generally loses ground.Anon