Day 32

The Death of Jesus

from the Luke reading plan


Luke 23:1-56, Psalm 38:20-21, Acts 4:23-31

BY Guest Writer

On September 11, 1934, theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote the following words in a letter to a friend:

“We must finally stop appealing to theology to justify our reserved silence about what the state is doing—for that is nothing but fear. ‘Open your mouth for the one who is voiceless’—for who in the church today still remembers that that is the least of the Bible’s demands in times such as these?”

Bonhoeffer penned this plea as the Nazi regime was gaining power, the death toll was growing, and many of his fellow Christians remained silent. He watched in horror as the German church failed to speak up and do what was right, choosing instead the false innocence of silence.

Eighty-five years later, it is easy to look back and judge. It’s easy to wonder how Christians in Germany failed so miserably. And yet, to do so is to deny one of the most common tactics of sin: shifting blame.

Blame-shifting is a thread that runs throughout Jesus’s trial in Luke 23. Pilate knows Jesus is innocent, and he does not want to execute him, and so he hands Jesus off to Herod (v.7). Herod, in turn, sends Jesus back to Pilate (v.11). Pilate then appeals to Jesus’s accusers, suggesting that a lesser punishment would be appropriate (v.16–20). But the crowds are unsatisfied. They will settle for nothing less than the death penalty. For a third time, Pilate pleads with the crowd to be reasonable (v.22), but they will not be dissuaded. Finally, Pilate finally hands Jesus over to them.

It would have been easy for Pilate to blame the crowd for Jesus’s fate. After all, he spoke up—multiple times!—but they insisted. What more could he have done? It also would have been easy for Herod to blame Pilate. After all, he didn’t kill the man. He simply handed him over to someone else.

This is what sin does. It shifts blame while insisting on its own innocence: So long as I wasn’t the one nailing Jesus to the cross, or rounding up my Jewish neighbors, or leading the lynch mob—I am innocent.

However, when we read the story of Pilate, we are reminded that God holds us to a far higher standard. The story of Pilate chastens us with the truth that a holiness built on omission, inaction, and looking the other way is no holiness at all.

In Stuart Townend’s famous hymn, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” he describes the events of Luke 23 this way:

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.

It’s difficult to imagine mocking our beloved Jesus. It’s nearly impossible to envision a time when we might look into His heartbroken eyes and jeer, impossible to imagine that we might be included among those for whom He prayed, saying, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (v.34). But the tragic story of Pilate reminds us that sometimes the loudest act of abandonment is choosing to say nothing at all.

Sharon Hodde Miller leads Bright City Church in Durham, NC with her husband Ike. She also holds a PhD on women and calling, and is the author of Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It’s Not about You.

Post Comments (63)

63 thoughts on "The Death of Jesus"

  1. Kristen says:

    Tina, you seem like a wonderful, loving person. May God comfort you, give you peace, and may the joy of the Lord be your strength always. May you feel His Presence and Love at all times. May He hold you in His loving arms.

  2. Elaine Morgan says:

    Oh Tina! I am so sorry for your loss. It is hard to loose a parent especially mom. But knowing she is in the arms of Jesus is such a blessing! It brings a peace that passes understanding just knowing where she is. My mom went home 9 years ago. It does get a little easier to get through each day without her but I still miss her so much. Praying for you and your family during this time of mourning. ❤️

  3. Churchmouse says:

    Sunday January 27 was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Not a word about it was spoken in my local church. I had forwarded several emails to leadership, reminding them. Just in case they had forgotten that which should never be forgotten. The percentage of people who either deny or cannot accurately explain the Holocaust rises every year. I’m wondering if my local church, this coming Sunday, will mention what recently occurred in New York and Virginia. I forwarded several emails to church leadership. There are those who do not know the truth behind Roe vs. Wade or the truth behind the founder of Planned Parenthood. We cannot assume that they know and understand and believe what God’s Word says. Who else is weeping over what is escalating in our own country? Oh church, we cannot be silent! Will the stones cry out because we won’t?

    1. Karen CantrellJohnston says:

      I stand with you in all these things. I felt the tug of God on my heart this morning to stand for the unborn. I perceive my church to be so concerned about offending anyone that they don’t say anything at all. I attend a very popular network of Churches that, in my opinion, are willing to ignore basic tenants of our faith as to not make church “unpleasant” for anyone. God’s grace is greater than anything, but I feel we are sinning all over grace by not taking a stand. I hope this makes sense. Thank you Churchmouse.

    2. Lisa S says:

      I am churchmouse… I am weeping. I am heartbroken at what we do to the voiceless. Are the unborn not the most “unreached people?” Yet my church is quiet on that too… though one in four women… even sitting in church… have had an abortion and need help, forgiveness, that they can find nowhere but in Jesus.

    3. Chris Swan says:

      Thank you Churchmouse for this comment!!! Everyone please pray for and support your local Pregnancy Resource Centers— they are leading this fight— they would be happy to speak at your churches!,

    4. Chelsea Wells says:

      As I lie here beside my sweet baby girl I grieve for all the other precious babies who have lost their lives to the atrocity of abortion. I pray every day for God’s mercy to fearful expectant mothers and the babies they are carrying.

  4. Bunny says:

    Tina, so very sorry for your loss. May you feel our Lord’s peace with you all.

  5. Carol says:

    Tina, Im praying for you and your family.

  6. Churchmouse says:

    Tina, dear friend, how blessed your mum was for having a daughter like you. Surely she felt your love throughout her life. Now she is experiencing the love of your beloved Jesus, healthy and whole in His embrace. One day, dear friend, you will behold them both. What a glorious day that will be!! Praying for peace and comfort for you and all the family and friends.

  7. Rachel says:

    Oh, Tina! So very sorry for your loss!

  8. Tina says:

    Not 12 hours ago, I said goodbye to my wonderful, beautiful, heart bigger than mine, mother..
    Called home, losing her has left a whole that is going to take the rest and beyond of my life to fill.. heartbroken would be an understatement

    But God..

    He brought me to this study this morning to read about the death of His son and how a kind man.. took Him Jesus and placed Him in his reserved tomb..
    I felt through my sorrow, that because of Jesus, because of His gracious sacrifice, His humbling plea for God to forgive us, for we know not what we do.. that for mum being called home, has been an ‘I welcome you home my child.. All and everything is forgiven.. Come..welcome home…

    Thank you Lord God.. for the gift of your open arms, for the love you carry for every unique individual you call your own.. Thank you that because of Jesus I know without a doubt that I will see and be with mum again, but for now she is in your safe keeping.. Lord , though my heart is broken, I praise and glorify you and with a thankful heart I say THANK YOU for the amazing woman you gave me to call my mum..

    EVERY BLESSING sisters.. with love…xx

    1. Kathy Stansell says:

      Tina, I am so sorry for your loss! I pray that the Lord will be a strong and mighty presence in your life during this time. That He will be your Rock and your Shelter. That His Spirit will speak words of comfort and peace to you.

    2. Bessie H says:

      Oh, Tina, I’m so sorry for your loss. How wonderful that you were able to visit her recently. I pray that God will grant you His peace that passes all understanding. You have many friends here, across the pond, who love you and are praying for you. May God hold you in the hollow of His hand as you grieve.

    3. Linda J says:

      Tina, I am sorry for your loss and the sorrow you feel. I am also rejoicing as a beloved child goes home and her beloved child lives on to serve and glorify her Lord. What better legacy for a parent than to have their child know and love God. Your mum continues to touch lives through your faith and witness. God bless you and comfort you.

    4. Bobbie Leathers says:

      “Surely, He has bourne our grief and carried our sorrows.” Thoughts and prayers for you. ✝️

    5. Beth Hinson says:

      I am so sorry for your hurting Tina! I pray that you continue to find comfort and strength in His word and all of our SRT sisters.

    6. Bethany Slocum says:

      I’m praying right now for you, Tina. Your faith in the midst of heartbreak is beautiful.

    7. Laura Caroline says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Tina. Saying goodbye to a parent is the hardest thing, no matter how old or young we are ❤️ The Lord truly is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. May Jesus give you grace and peace for the days ahead.

    8. Diana Degnan says:

      I know exactly how you feel except when I lost my mom I didn’t know Jesus or much of the Bible at all. So thankful for the comfort of Jesus through weeping and mourning. Prayers for you and your heart❤️

    9. Mari V says:

      Tina, I am so sorry for your loss. We, your sisters will be praying for for comfort. I am well aware that the pain doesn’t go away but it does get better. My daddy passed away over 10 years ago and I miss him every day. And just like you, your mum, he was an amazing person who loved Jesus very much. Our parents are completely healed! Tina I will be praying for you my dear sister.

    10. Natasha R says:

      Sending you prayers and a big hug Tina.

    11. Jennifer AndersMiller says:

      Tina, I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost my Mom 7 years ago and there is still an ache there. However, I look around at this world we live in, at both the good and bad, and I remind myself that she is so happy now. Free of disease, free of worry, free of all of the daily burdens of life and I am filled with peace. No
      one can replace your Mum, but God will fill that void and soften that ache. Praying for you and yours during this time and for the months to come.

    12. Rhonni_l S says:

      My prayers are you with you & yours ❤

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