Day 50: Certainty (Luke 23:18-56)
Today’s Passage: Luke 23:18-56
Certainty. That is what Luke started with. Does it seem like Luke is certain Jesus is dead? How about you?
Details. A demanding crowd. A reluctant jury and judge. Jesus scourged and beaten. A random man pressed into service. Two criminals suffering the same fate, with completely different reactions. The man in the middle, Jesus, showing concern for the women whose hearts are breaking. Details.
More details. For hours, a darkened sky and a torn temple curtain. Before we press on, just a little detail about scourging and the curtain.
The Romans were experts at scourging. They used a wooden rod that had several 18 to 24 inch-long straps of leather attached to it. And at the end of it were sharp, rugged pieces of metal, wire, glass, and jagged fragments of bone and cut deeply through the victim’s skin and into his flesh, shredding his muscles and sinews. This was so effective that much of the tissue was removed and often the spine itself was visible by the time they were finished. Jesus’ literal flesh was torn to shreds.
The temple had a curtain, placed there for the safety of God’s people. No one can enter the Holy of Holies and live. The curtain separated the most holy place of the temple, from the rest.(Hebrews 9:1-12) Once a year, the high priest would enter, only after a rope was tied around his waist. (This was in the event he did something wrong; if he died as a result, they could drag him out from behind the curtain since they couldn’t go in and get him, for they too would perish.) The veil represents the separation of a Holy God from sinful humanity.
The curtain was huge. You would not accidentally trip and fall through it. Estimates place it at 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and about one inch thick.
When it was torn in two, it was a big deal. And by the way, the moment Jesus died, the moment the curtain was torn in two, was also the same hour that a priest in the temple would be sacrificing a lamb.
Let’s now return to the scene where Jesus is hanging, suffocating, on the Cross. What do we read?
At the moment of Jesus’ death, the temple curtain is torn in two, the priest is sacrificing the lamb, and the centurion, a Roman soldier says, “Certainly this man was innocent.” In Matthew’s Gospel we read the Centurion saying, “Certainly this man was the Son of God.”