HUMANITY ON DISPLAY
"The men in charge of Jesus began poking fun at Him, slapping Him around. They put a blindfold on Him and taunted, 'Who hit you that time?' They were having a grand time with Him." Luke 22:63-65 (The Message).
The arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus put humanity on display like no other event in history. For a few hours men had God in their power, so they thought, and they showed Him exactly what they thought of Him. They were unaware that He had purposely given Himself over to them so that they could show their true colours.
Every level and category of human being was represented there, from the highest civil and religious authority in the land to the ordinary people; they all had a hand in exposing the depth of wickedness in the human heart.
Judas, a close and trusted follower, set the ball rolling. He treacherously sold Jesus out to His enemies by leading the soldiers and temple police, sent by the religious leaders, to arrest Him at His favourite spot in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The disciples' loyalty to their Master was paper-thin. When the chips were down, they fled to save themselves and Peter denied that he even knew Him. They forget everything He ever taught them and all their protests that they loved Him and left Him to suffer alone.
The religious leaders harboured a grudge against Him because He clashed with their greed and power over the people, cloaked in religion. They hated Him for His goodness; they used their position to manipulate the justice system for their own ends and to force Pilate to sentence Him to death.
The Sanhedrin, the highest judicial court of the land, was made up of the Chief Priests, Caiaphas and his father-in-law, Annas, and the religious hierarchy. Of all the people in Israel, they should have had the strictest code of justice. Jesus' trial was such a mockery of justice that it made Pilate look like a saint.
They had tried and sentenced Him before His arrest. It was their intention to find Him guilty, no matter what, and to kill Him even If He were innocent, not because He was a dangerous criminal but because they hated Him. They were even prepared to let a rabble-rousing murderer by the name of Barabbas loose on society again, rather than release Jesus.
The ordinary people were so fickle that they switched from celebrating His arrival on a donkey the week before to becoming a menacing mob, supporting their religious leaders and baying for Jesus' blood so forcefully that Pilate gave in to prevent a riot and to save his own skin.
King Herod tried to turn Jesus into an entertainer, taunting Him into doing miracles to tickle his fancy. When Jesus refused to capitulate, he became nasty, using his own royal robe to mock and insult Him. He discarded Jesus with contempt, sending Him back to Pilate to do as he pleased with Him.
The soldiers callously played with Jesus like a cat plays with a mouse. They tortured and tormented Him with words and cruelty to try to get a response out of Him. His calm and submissive demeanour enraged them so much that they "lost it" with Him but they could not bend Him to retaliate to their vicious behaviour. These men had nothing personal against Jesus. They simply joined in the fight and made it their own.
Against the backdrop of the worst of human prejudice, Jesus was unmoved. He was serene, polite and gentle. When the women bewailed His fate on His way to the cross, He dismissed His own suffering by warning them of theirs. He submitted to the nails; he spoke welcoming words to the repentant thief by His side and He forgave His tormentors.
It is no wonder that the Roman centurion who had observed many crucifixions, burst out, "Surely this man was the Son of God."
"When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2;23-24 (NIV).
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