Saturday, June 24, 2006

Blessed Irony

I have often been struck by the irony of the people calling for Christ's crucifixion. After Pilate washes his hands, the response of the people is "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" Likewise, the book of Acts tells us that when the apostles are preaching the gospel in Jerusalem, the high priest declares, "... you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood."

Dan Doriani, former professor at Covenant Seminary, describes further irony and unintended truth in his article, Shouting at the Cross. Some excerpts:

“What then shall I do with Jesus, called the Christ?” Pilate asked. “Crucify him,” they replied. “What crime has he committed?” he asked. They did not reply, but shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” Pilate finally said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. I wash my hands. I am free of responsibility for this man’s blood; it is yours.” And they said, “We’ll take it. Let his blood be on us and on our children.”

We shudder at the words. We shudder at the shout. They called down upon themselves the guilt for slaying the very Son of God. Surely, we are at the apex of the rebellion of the Jews: they accused their Messiah; they slaughtered their Mediator; they murdered Jesus, the Prophet, the Priest, the King, their only hope. Yet, even in this dreadful shout, “Let His blood be on us and on our children,” Matthew intends to give us a word of hope. The Jews have spoken an unintended truth, the first of many in this passage. Because, indeed, their only hope is that His blood would cover them–not so they would pay the price for murder, but so that they would be freed from the penalty of murder.


The priests are also close to the truth, all unintended, when they say, “He saved others, but He cannot save Himself.” Again, it is true, though not as they think. He did save others, and now He would save yet more. He will even leave the cross. But He could not leave at that moment, or He would not have completed His work on the cross.


Who are you in the aftermath of this great exchange? Are you shocked into silence? Do you feel the need to whisper? There is a place for those hushed tones but there is also a place for us to lay aside our whispering and join with the creation and those men and women who had eyes to see and to shout rightly, “Let His blood be on us and on our children.” But now this shout is not to mock but to be cleansed by His blood. Now is the time to shout out in adoration, “He saved others, but He did not save himself. And because He did not save Himself, He saves us. Praise Him!”

(HT: Vitamin Z)

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