The sound of the words is almost as ugly as the sound of the nails being driven in: bound. accused. scourged. stripped. thorns. mocked. spit. struck. derided. reviled. forsaken. crucified.
It’s the morning after his betrayal. Condemned by the chief priests and the elders, he is delivered to the governor – a Gentile – for the final sentence. Their recommendation is death.
Judas is already remorseful for the deed he’s done. He realizes his sin. He returns the money. He takes his life.
It matters little to the hypocritical priests. They won’t take the blood money back into their treasury – that would be wrong. They see nothing wrong with the deception or the murder they are part of.
The prophesies continue to come true. The amount of the money. The purchase of the potter’s field. His silence. His stripes. His wounds. The division of his clothing.
Judas is not the only one whose hands are stained with blood.
The leaders, seeing their plot through, as they accuse him before the governor. As they move among the crowds, persuading them to demand his crucifiction. As they stand at the foot of the cross and mock.
The crowds, who a few days earlier were cheering his entrance into Jerusalem, now are whipped into a frenzy. Crucify Him! His blood be on us and on our children!
The soldiers, who scourge and strike and mock. The robbers who revile him along with the others, even as they share his fate.
Pilate, despite washing his hands and saying he is innocent of the blood. He knows they do this to Jesus out of envy. His wife tells him of Jesus’ righteousness. He can find no fault, but he placates the leaders, avoids the riot of the crowd, abdicates his responsibility, and sends him to the cross.
Ironies abound. The Righteous Judge, judged by hypocrites, deceivers, and cowards. Mocked and taunted for being a “king” by those who didn’t realize he was the King of Kings. The Sinless One convicted of capital crimes. Despite all his power, taking the role of powerlessness. Derided for not coming down from the cross and saving himself by those he stayed up there to save. The disbelief of God’s people, while a Gentile proclaims, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
So much pain, and not all of it physical. I wonder if the worst of it was the absence of God’s presence. From the prayers in the Garden left unanswered, to these last moments on the cross, no sign of Him. No sign of the supernatural. No cloud with a voice saying, “this is my beloved son”. Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Once death comes, though, the supernatural is apparent. Earthquakes, tombs opened, dead raised. The curtain of the temple torn into – no more need for an earthly intermediary between the people and Holy God.
It is finished.