Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. John 19:31
The ironies of theis crucifixion continue to build. Perhaps the word is hypocrisy. Here the Jewish leaders insisted on putting an innocent man to death, and were ready to revolt if they didn’t get their way. They asked Pilate to make the death happen sooner. Why? To avoid being “unclean”. They put a man to death but didn’t want to have suffering bodies on the crosses during their special Sabbath.
In 1 Samuel 15, the prophet Samuel addressed this sort of hypocrisy with King David. Samuel said “and the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites…” David said that he had in fact destroyed it all.
But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God at Gilgal. Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.” 1 Samuel 15:21-23
The Jewish leaders were clearly “going through the motion” of devotion to God. Outwardly they were pious but inwardly they were so bent on protecting the law – the law they themselves created to protect the Ten Commandments – that they forgot their purpose. And what was that purpose? Micah 6:8 tells us: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
The Jewish leaders were certainly not merciful, nor were they just. And humility? Hardly.
Enough about them. What about us? What way have you shown mercy this week? How havewe walked humbly with God? And justice?
As you read this, the United States commemmorates the 12th anniversary of the events of 9/11. It’s quite easy to become nationalistic (chanting U.S.A! U.S.A!!) and overly patriotic. But on this day, it’s a little more difficult to show mercy, walk humbly with God, and act justly.
And yet, that’s what the Lord requires of us.