Luke’s Perspective

Several years ago, when I first began exploring the art and music surrounding Jesus’ story, I was touched by all the different artists and composers who have found inspiration in the events surrounding Jesus’ arrest, trial and subsequent crucifixion. It became a bridge, through the centuries, to their view of the cross. There wasn’t “one way” but several vantage points, and all provided and important opening  on the scene that eventually played their part in cracking off another piece of the hard shell surrounding my heart.

In light of this, it is interesting to note that each of the Gospel accounts, on the whole, are remarkably the same. Still it does give one pause to think why there might be the need for 4 different accounts. Upon closer examination, I found several interesting details unique to Luke’s Gospel which made me think about who he might have interviewed to write his account, since he was not on the scene. Seems likely that he must have spoken to the women who stayed with Jesus through the ordeal and especially Jesus’ mother Mary who stood near the cross.

The Mocking of Christ, Alexander Andreyevich, (1806-1858), Image Source

This week I noticed that while all of the gospel accounts paint a picture of the soldiers putting a purple or scarlet robe on Jesus and mocking him, it is only in Luke that he details the trip to Herod for  questioning. It is during this part of the story that the soldiers put an “elegant robe” on him which by its nature begins to put forth the charge that Jesus claimed to be “King of the Jews.” Before this, the charge from the Jewish high priest had been that Jesus was claiming to be the Son of God and offense not punishable by Roman law. (see Luke 23: 8-12)

So it seems from Luke’s account that it was Herod who might have drove the fatal nail sentencing Jesus to his death. And when you think that this Herod was the son of “Herod the Great” that ordered the massacre of the innocents when Jesus was a baby, you can see that he must have felt rather victorious.

Seems likely to me that Jesus’ mother would have noticed and remembered this…I wonder…

Mocking of Christ, Miniature des Heures Poncer, circa 1500, 5.2 X 3.4 inches, Master of the Cardinal de Bourbon. Image Source

Another detail that I have always found interesting and one that only Luke includes, is that after Peter denied knowing Jesus and the cock crowed, Jesus turned and looked at him:

“The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered…and he went out and wept bitterly.”  Luke 22: 61-62

To know what Peter remembered, wouldn’t Luke have spoken to Peter? or at least someone near enough to Peter to recall his version of the event.

Ecce Homo, 1650, Mateo Cerezo (1637-1666) color on canvas, 38.6 x 29.5 inches, Museum of Fine Arts Budapest, The Yorck Project. Image Source

Luke is also the only writer who includes that Jesus spoke to the women who followed weeping as he carried the cross.

“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children…” Luke 23 28

Christ Crowned with Thorns, Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) oil on oak panel, 28.9 x 23.3 inches. National Gallery London. Image Source.

And despite the constant mocking and jeering of the crowd at the cross and the pain inflected by soldiers, Luke includes that Jesus said:

“Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing” Luke 23: 34

and he also includes these words of grace spoken to the thief on the cross:

“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23: 43

Who would have been standing close enough to hear these words that Jesus struggled to speak? What would our ministry be without them? I know that for me, they have become a powerful testimony to the true heart of God and I am so thankful to Luke for including them.

The Mocking of Christ, 1617, Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656) 57 1/2 x 81 1/2 inches. Los Angeles Museum of Art. Beeshest McClain photograph, Image source.

Keeping this picture ever before our eyes, we are renewed in our strength to become peacemakers. As we rest this weekend and as we move into another week, let us renew our resolve to be forgiving and patient with those we live and work.

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgives you. ” Ephesians 4: 30-32.

Thanks for reading and Happy Sunday!

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