Fourth Sunday in Lent – Friday

Crucify Him, crucify Him! – John 19:6.

Pilate was sadly mistaken to think that scourging Jesus would satisfy the people.

When the chief priests and officers saw Jesus, they cried out: “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” (John 19:6). Pilate said to them: “Take ye Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him” (v. 6b). The Jews answered him: “We have a law, and by our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God” (v. 7). When Pilate heard that, he dreaded all the more to order the execution of Jesus. Again he took Jesus with him into the judgment hall, and asked Him: “Whence art Thou?” (vv. 8-9a). But Jesus gave him no answer (v. 9b). Then Pilate said to Him: “Speakest Thou not unto me? Knowest Thou not that I have power to crucify Thee, and have power to release Thee?” (v. 10). Jesus answered: “Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above. Therefore, he that delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin” (v. 11).

Now Pilate most earnestly sought to release Jesus. But the Jews insisted on their demand that Jesus be crucified (vv. 12a and 15a). And the counsel of God also remained unchanged. Jesus would most certainly be crucified. Jesus’ own prophecy, and what the Old Testament prophets had foretold, needed to be fulfilled: Christ must be crucified. Pilate, though shamefully guilty, was but God’s instrument in this matter. The Jews who delivered Jesus, particularly Caiaphas, the high-priest, were more guilty than Pilate on account of greater knowledge, but they were also tools in the hand of God. And the mad and howling mob, though their sin was inexpressibly great, simply served to carry out the cry of God’s own justice for our redemption: “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the Man that is My Fellow, saith the Lord of hosts; smite the Shepherd!” (Zechariah 13:7).

For God so willed to give up His only-begotten Son into the shameful death upon the cross, for our salvation.

PRAYER. – I give thanks to Thee, most merciful God and Father, that Thou didst not spare Thine own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, to suffer the shameful death upon the cross in our stead and for our salvation. How merciful is Thy counsel, and how graciously Thou hast carried it into effect! How earnestly dost Thou desire my salvation and that of the whole world! Continue to endow me, I implore Thee, with the power of Thy Holy Spirit, working through Thy Word, that, in true faith, I may always be comforted with Thy wonderful mercy and rejoice in Thy grace into all eternity. Amen.

What punishment so strange is suffered yonder!

The Shepherd dies for sheep that loved to wander;

The Master pays the debt His servants owe Him,

Who would not know Him.

Hymn 143, 4. [TLH] 

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