History told honestly
46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
- Luke 23:46-49
Today’s passage captures the moment of Jesus’ death. He died full of trust in his heavenly Father. But he also died as a criminal, executed by the state in full view of both friendly and unfriendly witnesses.
Look at who Luke records as being present at the death of Jesus: a Roman centurion, the official witnesses (sent by the Jewish authorities), and the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee. Each group responds in their own unique ways to the death of Jesus. The centurion found himself moved by the nobility of Jesus’ death. The crowd expressed grief, shame, and remorse over the death they witnessed. The women watched from a distance.
Luke told us a story of a God who died. He didn’t flinch or hide from this fact. It stood at the center of the account he passed down to us. Luke showed us God overwhelmed by death and dragged down into the grave.
Multiple times throughout Luke’s narrative he made choices to tell the true story rather than a convenient glossed-over version. He depicted Jesus’ emotional turmoil as he approached the cross. He included the testimony of a Gentile soldier and women (who wouldn’t have been allowed to testify in the Jewish courts at the time). As we’ll see tomorrow, Luke claimed that Jesus actually physically rose from the dead, a claim that would strain belief.
Throughout the Bible we see the story of God and his people told honestly, warts and all. The disciples and apostles had petty arguments and lacked faith. The heroes of the faith sinned in shameful ways. Jesus couldn’t save both himself and us; he had to choose who he would protect, at great cost to himself.
As an exercise today, read Luke 23-24. It will take you a few minutes. Look for moments in the story that you would be tempted to soften, edit, or gloss over. Thank God that we have an honest account of what happened with Jesus.
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