Scripture: Luke 23:
20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
22 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.”
23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 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.
Observation: We each must ultimately take responsibility for ourselves and bear our own burdens on our own shoulders.
Application: This part of the passion story always makes me think of an exercise I participated in while in college. I’ll try to share it with you as briefly as I can.
It starts with a story of a young girl who was going off to college. Although this story is fictional, it is one that seems very real and may have happened more than once in the past.
The young lady who was leaving for college had been raised by a very strict father and as she was leaving he told her. “If you go off and start running wild and get yourself pregnant, don’t come crawling back home to me!” So the girl leaves for college and is overwhelmed by the experience of freedom that she has living away from her family for the first time. She starts dating a young man and before long the very thing that her father warned her against happened. She ended up being pregnant.
Remembering her fathers words of warning she knew she couldn’t turn to him for help, and if he found out about it, she knew he would disown her and she would be on her own. She went to her boyfriend and told him that she was pregnant, that her father would disown her if he found out and she asked her boyfriend for help and advice. The boyfriend told her “You should have been more careful, it’s not my problem.”
Distraught she found herself crying in her dorm room, praying and asking God what to do. Her room mate found her in this condition and when she had explained the situation to her she said. “I know a lady who will sell you a pill and the pill will get rid of the baby.” The girl didn’t want to do it, but with no help from her boyfriend, and knowing that she couldn’t go home to her father, she decided to get the pill. She buys the pill from the lady whom the room mate had put her in contact with and takes it. Later that night she has a bad reaction to the pill and dies.
It’s a very sad story I know – the exercise is this. Who is the most responsible for the death of the girl and baby? Rate them from least responsible to the most responsible. There are five people who play a role in the story.
1. The Girl
2. The Father
3. The Boyfriend
4. The Room Mate
5. The Lady with the pill
This was a group exercise and we talked about it quite a bit. In the end we decided that even though everyone played a role in this terrible story, the girl herself had to be the most responsible. The list above is the order which we came up with. It is a question with no right answer and you could debate the order all day long for many days I’m sure and still not have clear answers. But I think that at least the number 1 position must be considered correct. It was after all the girl who in the end made all the decisions.
The reason I said earlier that our scripture today makes me think of this is because as you look at Jesus heading to the cross and consider the different people involved in getting him there you can go through the same kind of exercise and come up with a similar answer. Who was most responsible for Jesus’ death on the cross?
3. The Sanhedrin (Jewish Leaders)
What do you think? If you really consider it – Jesus himself has to be the most responsible. He is shown time and again through the gospels as being the one in control. He told Judas “What you are about to do, do it quickly,” He told Pilate “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. ” Jesus willingly put Himself in the situation of facing the cross. He did it as the sacrificial lamb of God to pay for our sins. He could have called Ten Thousand angels to save Him from the cross, but He endured it for you and I. Hallelujah!
I realize that this is already a longer than average journal, but before I close I have to make one more point. The things that happen in my life and in your life can be examined in the same way as we have the situations with the college girl, and with Jesus. Who is most responsible for the bad things, and who is most responsible for the good things? Human nature is not often prone to looking within at ourselves to find faults. We don’t mind claiming responsibility for the good things, but the bad we want to blame on someone else. I think as Christians its important for us to go against that human nature and realize our own responsibility in the things that happen in our lives.
Ok God, it’s not those around me who are the problem. It’s me! Forgive me! Heal MY Heart! Help me to make better decisions, better choices, help me to work harder and be a stronger, more loving, more forgiving, more dedicated servant to You! …
And I hear His voice – “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father,
Help me to stop pointing my finger out, and let me turn it toward myself. Help me to recognize the changes I need to make in my own life, in my own heart, and in my own decisions and give me the strength and the courage to do it. Help me to take up my cross and follow Jesus.