Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Jesus Flips the Script: Reversals During Passion Week

unsplash-logoJungwoo Hong

A Passion for Reversals

A few weeks ago, a series of thoughts came to mind during the Lord's Supper which I did not have the opportunity to share but have been bouncing around between my ears. Jesus, naturally, is a fascinating subject of study and passion week is the most fertile, poignant period of his earthly career. During this week, Jesus either offers to reverse the fortunes of many. In fact, he reverses the fortunes of the entire world whom he so loves.

Specifically, however, Jesus tries to flip the script for three persons as he marches to Calvary. He extends his arms to them as they were stretched out on a cross. He offers the olive branch while facing death on a tree.

Jesus Calls The Traitor, "Friend"

And Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you have come for." Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.  —Matthew 26:50, NASB
Judas had worked out a deal to betray Jesus. Leave aside the details of why this was done and whether or not it was truly necessary for anything other than prophecy, it was clearly a slap in the face. It was a clear act of treason for a supposed subject of the King of Glory to turn him over to the priests for any reason. And by kiss no less!

How does Jesus respond? Friend1. Jesus knew Judas' intentions, however noble or ignoble they may have been. Yet, he still calls Judas friend. In this simple phrase, Jesus illustrates his entire atoning work: to reconcile a hostile populace back to himself. Scripture tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8

Jesus Reveals Truth to the Judge

Therefore Pilate said to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." —John 18:37, NASB
Pilate is quite the cynical judge to ask the question, What is Truth? Did he now know truth from falsehood? Was he disillusioned from moral philosophies, religions, politics, and other schemes of men? Here he has the embodiment of Wisdom that was spoken of in Proverbs 8:22 who was both present and active in the creation of the universe. But he could not recognize the Truth.

Jesus brings a lesson on Truth to this judge. He brings his testimony to all the world and says, Now, you be the judge. Can you discern truth from falsehood? Can you decipher between truth and the noise that the world makes around it? Jesus says quite simply, I am the way, the truth, and the life.  —John 14:6

Jesus Grants Paradise to the Condemned

And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." —Luke 23:43
Jesus was numbered with the criminals. When people looked up, they saw no difference between the dregs of humanity and the Lord of All Creation. Not only that, but these filthy dregs joined in and mocked the Holy One, hurling insults and profanity at him as only the profane can. Certainly, such scum has a special hole reserved in hell for their torment.

Yet, Jesus reverses even this disdainful scene. One criminal recognized both his own woeful state and his only chance for salvation: Jesus, the Christ. He calls out to the King of Kings and pleads for entry into the kingdom; Jesus was willing and able to make that promise. He offers this to any and all who realize that they are destined for a lost eternity on their own and call out for his salvation.


Jesus is in the business of reversing man's standing before God. Where we were once traitorous heathens, we can now be called friends. Where we were clueless judges of our own lives, we can now have the truth. And where we were alone and lost, we are now found in him.


1. There is good textual evidence that this may be a gracious interpretation of the Greek term employed by Jesus. While friend works, the term might actually be applied as punk or knave. Comparable texts even use this word as a condescending term, like when referring to a child as buddy. Still, for the purposes of the devotional, Jesus offers reconciliation to those who are hostile to him. That truth is evident from scripture.
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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