Someone once called the four gospels: “Passion narratives with long introductions.” There is much truth in those words. The rest of the Gospel narrative moves fairly quickly through the birth and three year ministry of Christ, but when we arrive at Palm Sunday, the narrative slows down, taking us day by day through that most holy of weeks. Then, when we come to Maundy Thursday, the events are described in even more detail, as the evangelists present us with an hour-by-hour account of the sufferings and death of our Lord. This use of time shows us that these events are the very fulcrum on which time itself turns, the culmination, climax, and center of all history. Today, on Wednesday, we look to Luke.
Luke presents Jesus as the holy and innocent martyr. He is shown as dying unjustly, but willingly; He doesn’t seek death, but when it comes, He accepts it as the Father’s will. Jesus is declared innocent by the civil authorities, as Pilate says, “I find no guilt in this man,” but yet He is still crucified, victim to the mob’s thirst for blood. Jesus goes bravely, honorably to His death. He is a prophet, speaking words of warning to the women who followed after Him. “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” He is gracious even to His persecutors, praying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus even gives forth everlasting life, declaring to the penitent thief, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Finally, Jesus gives Himself into the Father’s hands, declaring, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” before He breathes His last. Jesus nobly, honorably gives His life into death, the innocent in place of the guilty, the Son of God in your place and mine. His death wins what He bestowed even upon the cross: forgiveness, paradise, to you, me, and all who believe.