Thursday, December 27, 2012

Luke 23

Finishing our reading through the New Testament in a year we come to the final chapters of Luke.

Luke 23 is Good Friday. Again, familiar reading, Jesus goes from Pilate to Herod and back again. He is sentenced to death by the Roman Governor (guaranteeing that he would die by crucifixion rather than stoning) see 23:13-25. Crucifixion was a particular cruel method of execution. Death was by asphyxiation. The body suspended on the cross would not be able to breathe properly, over time the lungs would fill with fluid and the crucified would die. This often took several days. It was so painful the Romans invented a new word to describe the pain: excruciating (that is pain from the cross). The arms would either be tied or nailed to the cross beam (the nails likely going through the wrist -- in the Greek/Roman anatomy the wrist was part of the hand so when the text says he "shows them his hands and feet" it is anatomically correct for the understanding of the time). The feet would be nailed through the ankles to the sides of the pole so that the body would have to push forward - enhancing the pain and increasing the pressure on the body.

The exchange between Jesus and the "good" thief is often told. At the moment of this man's death he seeks mercy from Jesus. "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" is one of the finer prayers in the gospel. And, Jesus promise, "today you will be with me in Paradise!" one of the greatest words of hope ever written.

Jesus dies (44-49) and is buried (50-56). Joseph of Arimathea would have been a new comer to Jerusalem. Had he grown up there he would have been known as Joseph son of ..... When someone in that culture was away from the place they were raised they were known by their name and where they came from. Jesus is called Jesus son of Joseph in Nazareth but Jesus of Nazareth every where else. Joseph is new to town which is probably why his tomb had yet to be used -- no one in his family in Jerusalem had died yet. 

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