I am not one of the soldiers who pounded the nails through Jesus’ body in order to attach him to the cross. I am not the one who fashioned a crown of thorns for him. I did not whip him. I am not the one who shoved a spear into his side to prove that he was dead.
I am not one of the religious leaders who brought Jesus to Pilate. I was not in the crowd that day shouting “crucify him!” I did not betray him like Judas or deny him like Peter. When Pilate washed his hands and declared himself innocent I was not one of the people who said, “his blood be on us and on our children.”
I was not in the garden when the forbidden fruit was eaten. I did not shout insults on the day of the crucifixion. I was not the first sinner in history and I did not participate in the execution of Jesus.
Jesus was innocent. When God raised Jesus from the dead, that overturned his death sentence. There is no higher court to declare him guilty again. God outranks all other judges.
After the resurrection Jesus appeared to the disciples who were together in a locked room. He showed them his scars. They rejoiced.
Later, in the Temple, they were brought before the same people who declared Jesus guilty. They were ordered not to teach in his name. They continued to teach in his name.
Sometimes I wish Jesus had appeared in the Temple when the disciples were being questioned the same way he appeared to the disciples when they were in a locked room. I wish he would have appeared to the soldiers who whipped him or to the ones who drove the nails. I wish he would have appeared to Pilate.
The part of me that is mean and petty and vindictive would want him to do that. Jesus is not mean, petty and vindictive. He would not want to condemn the people who condemned him. If Jesus could choose between condemning someone and saving them, he would choose to save them. He would choose to save Pilate, and the high priest, the soldier who whipped him and the one who drove the nails. Jesus did not come to condemn. He came to save.
Jesus was innocent and people put him to death. God raised him from the dead. When God raised Jesus from the dead it was complete and total exoneration.
I am not innocent. Some of the sins that Jesus died for were mine.
If my mean and vindictive side would like to see Jesus appear to the people responsible for his death and start to ask them questions that expose their guilt, then how would I like him to appear to me and ask me why I did this sin or that sin?
If my guilt is ever exposed and listed for all to see, I will be ashamed. I am already ashamed when I think about my history of sins.
Jesus will have things to say to me, but I don’t think Jesus will list my sins. I believe Jesus will tell me that my sins were nailed to the cross. They died there. I am a forgiven sinner. That is how Jesus deals with sin.
Thanks be to God for the resurrection. Thanks be to God for the promise of everlasting life. Thanks be to God for the work of Jesus, the savior of the world. Have a wonderful Easter season.
Pastor Brian Birk
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church