Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Jesus Friend Of Little Children"1 (Lyrics)
Luke 23:20-23 – Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. But they shouted, saying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" Then he said to them the third time, "Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go." But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed. (NKJV)
I sometimes think that we Christians can get a little too smug about what we would and would not do. It's not surprising. After all, we have the benefit of hindsight. We have our Bibles and two thousand years of Christian tradition behind us. All of this underpins and influences our beliefs and behaviour. But what if we had none of this? I often wonder what I and others would have done were we living as Jews in Jesus' time here on earth. How would we have received Him on hearing Him for the first and perhaps the only time? Those of us on the lowest rungs of the social order would be illiterate. Such education as we had would have been delivered in the home or workshop to give us working skills. Religious instruction, if we had it, would have been based on the Law given in the Pentateuch, the first five books in our Old Testament. Engraved and foremost in our minds would be the words:
Deuteronomy 6:4 – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! (NKJV)
Then, out of the blue, comes a man claiming to be the Son of God and to have fulfilled the Law and the Prophets! The only religious authorities we would have known were the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the scribes, and they were always fighting amongst themselves. Nevertheless, they rejected Him almost to a man. You see now that once we place ourselves in the ancient Jewish world — given the circumstances of time and place, the decadence and mindset of our religious teachers, and our own ignorance — we begin to see how difficult it would be for us to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah, Lord, and Saviour. It is all too easy to condemn. We should remember that it was the grace of God which caused a few to embrace Him, and that there, but for the grace of God, might we be amongst the many who rejected Him. This should be a humbling thought to us.
And if we are so foolish as to say to ourselves, "Oh, we're civilized and Christian now. We would never crucify our Saviour", then we need to remind ourselves that the nation which gave us Martin Luther, Goethe, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, and Bonhoeffer, also gave us Adolf Hitler and the holocaust. The lesson is that no nation or people, however gifted, is exempt from the possibility of inflicting great evil, given the "right" circumstances. It is incumbent on us, then, to constantly remind ourselves who we are, who and what Jesus is, and what, then, is expected of us.
Luke 23:34 – Then Jesus said, "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do." (NKJV)
This is just as true today as it was two thousand years ago. It is sobering that we still do not know the evil that we are capable of in the absence of a love for God and our fellow man.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, deliver us from evil, both of our own doing, and that of others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.