When we think of the crucifixion we tend to think of the “main event”–the hours that Jesus hung upon the cross. That’s more than enough to make us cringe, more than sufficient to bow our heads at the injustice. And more than enough to wonder afresh at the depths of love that compelled Him, by whom all things were made, to bear the shame and suffering my sin deserved.
But before the main event, there were the prelims. Encounters and incidents, from the time of His arrest in the garden to the time the nails were driven in His hands, that also evoke a sense of wonder. I’m hovering over one of those this morning.
Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him as they beat Him. They also blindfolded Him and kept asking Him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming Him.
(Luke 22:63-65 ESV)
Before there was ever an official accusation, before the sham trial even began, before a Roman inquisition was sought, before the day had even begun, Jesus was mocked and beaten by a bunch of no names.
What personal gripe His custodians had against Him is anybody’s guess. Perhaps these servants of the high priest just thought, “Any enemy of my boss, is an any of mine.” Or perhaps the same enemy who had entered Judas had entered them (Lk. 22:3).
But here’s what’s got me thinking. What if Jesus had spoken their names?
What if, after they had blindfolded Him, beat Him, and arrogantly berated Him, what if, after they had mockingly taunted, “Who is that struck you?” He told them? What if He had identified them?
What if their Creator had called them out? What if the Son of God, still omniscient in nature though His omnipotent glory had been shrouded, let them know that He knew?
At first I thought, “That would make a difference? That would straighten them up?” But would it have? It’s not like Jesus hadn’t spoken amazing words before? Not like unexplainable signs hadn’t already testified repeatedly to His divine nature and the truth of His claims. Outing them may not have made any difference at all. They didn’t need another sign, they needed a new start, they needed a new heart.
And so Jesus quietly let them run amok in their sin for He knew that soon He would make way for that new start and that He would make provision for a new heart. And that the time would soon come when He would speak their names and verbally identity them before heaven and earth:
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
(Luke 23:34 ESV)
Oh, the corruption of sin. Oh, the darkness of man’s heart. Oh, the depths of the Savior’s suffering.
I was the mocker. I was the abuser. I was the arrogant earthen vessel shaking my fist at Almighty God.
But oh, the wonder of the cross.
How deep the Father’s love for us!
The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen could ever tell . . .
What amazing grace! To Him be all the glory!