What strikes me in this account of the Passion of Christ is how little Jesus has to say for himself.
Firstly, when Pilate asks him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ he answers, ‘You say so.’
Secondly he speaks to the women weeping on his way to crucifixion ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.’
Then finally, from the cross itself, Luke tells us Jesus says three things
‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’
To the penitent thief he says ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
And his final words are ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’.
You see how little Jesus says in this long account - yet what he does say is heavy with importance.
Jesus speaks words of sympathy or empathy
‘weep for yourselves'
'today you will be with me'
and words of forgiveness 'Father, forgive'.
His concern is not for his own fate but for the lives and souls of others. Jesus is truly the Messiah, the one who has come to save the people, not save his own life.
So instead of a spirited defence of himself, instead of giving reasons why Pilate should not have him crucified, he simply echoes the charge levelled against him. So when asked 'are you king?' he says 'you say so'
Jesus does not fight for his own survival, but allows the authorities to carry out their terrible torture, and then gives himself up, in trust, into God’s care 'Father into your hands I commend my spirit'.
Luke is clear that Jesus suffers a 'miscarriage of justice'. He is wrongly accused, he is innocent of these charges, he ought not, in a just world, have been crucified.
But Jesus speaks to show that he knows the world is not just, and that for precisely that reason he will not fight for his own rights, but instead give himself up in love & forgiveness. So we do not see merely an innocent man on the cross, we see a display of the extent of God’s love for us – to come and take flesh, to suffer and die, and all for love of us.
In this way Jesus offers the world, and the people in it, offers everyone of us, the love and forgiveness we need to change in order to become just and peaceful and loving.
Thanks be to God. Amen