Luke 23:13-25 It is worthy when we suffer for Kingdom’s purpose
13 Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. 15 No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him. 16 Therefore I will punish Him and release Him.” 17 [ Now he was obliged to release to them at the feast one prisoner.]
18 But they cried out all together, saying, “ Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!” 19 (He was one who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection made in the city, and for murder.) 20 Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again, 21 but they kept on calling out, saying, “Crucify, crucify Him!” 22 And he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.” 23 But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail. 24 And Pilate pronounced sentence that their demand be granted. 25 And he released the man they were asking for who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, but he delivered Jesus to their will.
Jesus is arrested and brought before the Roman court. When they find no wrongdoing in Jesus, they exonerate Him. However, the Jewish leaders being envious of Jesus seek to crucify Him by threatening to riot and get Pilate in trouble with Rome. Although Jesus is proven innocent beyond doubt, He is still delivered over to be condemned on the cross because of the Jews. Today’s passage teaches us to be patient and wait for God’s vindication when we suffer unjustly for the sake of God’s kingdom.
I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him – Jesus is tried by Pilate and Herod and they find Him innocent of the charges that are leveled against Him. Primarily, Jesus is accused by the Jews for inciting a rebellion against the Roman rulers. However, they found Him apolitical without a basis for indictment. The verdict of Pilate is important in that it affirms Jesus’ innocence that exonerates Him in the court of law.
Crucify, crucify Him! – Even after Pilate repeatedly upholds Jesus’ innocence: “Why, what evil has this man done?” the Jews keep calling for Jesus’ crucifixion. Despite Pilate’s offer of scourging Jesus before letting Him go, the Jews were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail.
But he delivered Jesus to their will – Pilate’s testimony of Jesus’ innocence attests to his own error and sin of condemning an innocent man. Pilate is pressured into maintaining a cordial relationship with the Jews for fear of a riot that may get him in trouble with Rome. The Jews exploit this fear and Pilate cave in to his own demise. Pilate will soon be held accountable for putting to death a man he has upheld as innocent.
- There will be judgment in the heavenly court for every person, for the righteous and the unrighteous according to their works. God judges the heart of every person according to his works. As the Roman court judges the works of Jesus and finds Him innocent. Similarly, a righteous court in heaven will judge every person’s heart. Paul says,
(God) will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. Romans 2:6-8
On the day of judgment, God judges every person’s heart using their works and words as basis. Jesus says,
But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:36
By works (deeds), God is not referring to religious rituals like baptism, worship and offering. Deeds refer to our lifestyle, our life goals and how we treat others. Jesus has strong words for those who use religious rituals as a facet to cover the darkness of their heart. The tongue is the face of the heart; it is like the fruit that reveals the quality of the tree. Therefore, God judges our heart through the works and words that flow from it.
- The human court may not give you a righteous verdict, but the heavenly court will. The human court is far from righteous; those with greater influence hold sway over the justice system. Although Jesus is exonerated by the words of Pilate, but He is still delivered over to be executed like a criminal. However, the heavenly court of the Sovereign Lord vindicated Christ by raising Him from death and exalting Him above all creation. Therefore, we must not be overcome by a sense of injustice or harbor a personal vendetta when wronged. Those who suffer for the course of the kingdom must learn to depend on God who will execute righteous judgment on all.
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you. 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6
Jesus must have felt great injustice being condemned for no fault of His own and placed under the authority of evil men. Therefore, He knew what it is like to being unjustly treated. However, Christ was unjustly condemned so that He could justify us before God.
- Every person in authority will be held accountable for their actions and the judgments they mete out. Those who are in authority must carefully consider their own lifestyle as they will be judged more severely. James says,
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. James 3:1
Those in authority will be judged more severely as their actions will carry greater consequences on the day of judgment. Therefore, those who are entrusted with the authority to judge must understand that they also will be subject to the righteous Judge in heaven.
- Let us be more careful with the words that we speak and the things that we do as we will be called to account for them. Hence, we must never deceive others with our lies for the truth will be revealed. Things done in secret that are buried will resurface on the day of judgment.
- If you are a person in authority, do you direct your subordinates according to your fancies and practice double standards? Do you practice favoritism in a bid to cause others to kow tow to you? We must manage our subordinates according to the righteous principles of God and reward them accordingly.
- Are you sometimes easily angered when a certain incident is brought to mind? There may be emotions of injustice that run deep, and may one day rear its ugly head and detract you. We must remember that God is our vindicator who will require justice from those who have hurt us.
Dear Lord, I will be true and just in all my dealings with others. Give me the wisdom to manage with fairness and equity. As I trust you as my vindicator, heal the wounds of my heart and remove from me the emotions of injustice. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.