Unjust Sacrifice

“The crowd shouted louder and louder for Jesus’ death, and their voices prevailed. So Pilate sentenced Jesus to die as they demanded. As they had requested, he released Barabbas, the man in prison for insurrection and murder. But he delivered Jesus over to them to do as they wished” (Luke 23:23-25Open Link in New Window).

Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and yet He died for our sins. He didn’t deserve that. It was so unjust. We deserve to die, but He died for us. I am humbled greatly because of what God has done for us.

But the injustice of Christ’s death goes beyond just Him dying when we deserved to die. He didn’t die in some ritual ceremony in which He was honored for his sacrifice. In stories of villages sacrificing a virgin girl to appease an angry dragon, at least she is dressed up in a flowing white dress with a garland on her head and everyone bemoans the grateful mourning of her life traded for theirs. In the case of Jesus Christ, He was innocent and yet the very people, his own people that he was trying to save hated him. His own people were the wicked dragon. He was trying to save them from themselves. It was unfair. We can understand a sacrifice to save the lives of your family, maybe even to save your friends. The one who gave his life would then be remembered and honored with gratefulness by the survivors. But why would someone sacrifice himself to save the people trying to kill him? It’s unfathomable. It’s not just. And even if he was sacrificing himself for them, you would think that he would at least deserve the satisfaction of them knowing the he was dying for them. But when Jesus died the people who called for his death didn’t understand that he was dying for them. He allowed them to kill him in order that He might save them.

And you would think that you could trust your government to provide justice for the people. But that wasn’t the case for Jesus. All his enemies had to do was hand Jesus over to the governor, make some false accusations and incite a mob to shout really loud. Even though Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent and that Herod had found him innocent, he folded under the social pressure from the mob and agreed to kill an innocent man. It wasn’t that he was deceived as to Jesus’ innocence. He valued Jesus life to little that he bowed to a little social pressure. It wasn’t even peer pressure or pressure from those in authority over him: it was pressure from the people under his authority. Pilate was a weak man. It is so unjust that Jesus had to suffer because the government was led by such a weak man.

But the injustice goes further. Jesus was innocent. The people he sacrificed his life didn’t appreciate him or understand what he was doing for them and orchestrated his execution. The government authorities failed him. But what makes this story even more heart wrenching is that Jesus had the power to free himself and destroy his enemies at any point in time. He is our creator. He has power so great and so awesome that we cannot even comprehend the infinite extent of his power. With a blink of an eye, he could have destroyed his enemies. With a single word, he could have obliterated all of humanity from ever having existed. He could, if he wanted to, have turned all human beings on the planet into simple-minded obedient automatons. But he didn’t. He had the power to save himself, but he let all that injustice happen to him. In fact, he knew exactly how it would all pan out. He was prepared. He had a purpose, greater than what the people could understand, probably greater than we can understand even now. And when he died, he prayed, “Father, forgive these people because they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34Open Link in New Window). In full knowledge of what was happening, Jesus gave his life freely. It was an unjust trade. Nothing about it was fair. But I know now that Christ had the victory. Someday every knee will bow before him and he will receive the honor that He justly deserves.

Dear God, I am so humbled by Your sacrifice. I scarcely even want to say that I’m grateful because my thanks are so inadequate for what you did. But I am incredibly indebted to you. I am humbled. Thank You so much, Lord Jesus. I want to follow You. I want to honor You as You deserve. Help me to do that. I want to bring You glory. 

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