It was a hot one out there today! I waited until 3pm to go for a run and found myself wishing that I had run early this morning.
Then again, there is something great about a heat run. Every time that I go out in the heat of the day, I think that I am gaining an advantage on race day (not that I have a particular upcoming race in mind).
The heat didn’t bother me too much on the first mile. I was clicking away pretty nicely. The first mile was 7:11. I was running at medium effort and felt pretty good. The second mile shaved a few seconds off of my pace, and I ran the third mile in 7:14.
Starting to feel the effects of the heat, I decided to move into more of an easy pace for the second half of my run. My left thigh was tightening up a bit and my mouth was completely dry.
Don’t spit! That saliva is a valuable liquid!
I slowed down to 7:30 for mile four and accidentally sped up to 7:23 for mile five. At this point I just decided to go for it. Why not? If the legs want to run, let’s let them run!
I easily moved down to 6:53 for my sixth mile and finished my 10k at a 6:36 pace. I was happy to be home and went immediately for a Gatorade.
My total run was 6.2 miles in 44 minutes 35 seconds at an average pace of 7:11 per mile.
I am sad to be leaving the Gospel of Luke today, but what a great last couple of chapters! The Gospel of Luke really shines in it’s details of the arrest, trial, and crucifixion (with the exception of one detail that I will highlight later).
I could go on and on about what stuck out to me today as I read Luke 23 – John 1, but I should stick to just three things.
The first is a very small, but interesting detail. Did you notice the bizarre sentence in Luke 23:12?
And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other. – Luke 23:12
I’m not sure what to make of this, but I don’t remember this from any of the other Gospels. Apparently the trial of Jesus brought Herod and Pilate together as friends, even though they had previously been enemies. In a strange twist of events, Jesus was destroying lines of enmity even through his unfair trial. I just found that line to be interesting, but let’s move on…
The one detail that Luke disappointingly leaves out is the custom of releasing a prisoner back to the Jews during the Passover. Luke just skips right over any explanation of the custom and it feels a bit awkward:
But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. – Luke 23:18-19
It could be easy for a reader to be left wondering what is going on. Thankfully the other Gospels give us great insight into what is going on here:
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” – Matthew 27:15-21
Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. – Mark 15:6-11
…[Pilate] went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber. – John 18:38-40
Why did Luke leave an explanation of this custom out of his Gospel? My best guess is that it was so ordinary and customary that his immediate readers would not have needed the explanation. They already understood what he was talking about. For us (2,000 years later), it is not always so easy.
In fact, skeptics will often look at something like the passages highlighted above and claim “discrepancy!”
Did you notice that the Gospel of Matthew refers to Barabbas as a “notorious prisoner”, while Mark seems to indicate that Barabbas committed murder, and yet John says that Barabbas “was a robber”? How do you reconcile this? Isn’t this a clear case of discrepancy?
I don’t think so. Surely he could have committed murder while robbing someone during the insurrection. That would make him fairly notorious, right? Didn’t Luke say that Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder?
There is no discrepancy here.
But this leads me to the last thing that I want to point out from today’s reading.
The story of the two men crucified with Jesus seems to also have some inconsistency. Here is how Luke tells the story:
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23:39-43
Here is how Matthew tells the story:
Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. – Matthew 27:38-44
Mark tells the story nearly exactly the same as Matthew. John leaves out any mention of the two men crucified with Jesus.
So was Luke right? Or were Matthew and Mark right? Or were the two men fictitious and therefore left out of the Gospel of John altogether?
I think the answer is simple. John, as we will see in the coming days reading through his Gospel, had a very different purpose in writing his Gospel. He leaves out MANY details from the other Gospels and introduces MANY new details that are found nowhere in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. So let’s leave John out of the picture here (since he didn’t bother to include himself, anyway).
Could it be that all of the accounts are true? I believe that both of the men crucified with Jesus joined in mocking Jesus at first, as is described in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. But as the day wore on, one of the men continued in the mocking (probably finding some sort of self-gratification in the process), and the other man came to his senses. He realized that death was imminent. On the cross, as each breath became more and more difficult, he realized (as eventually did the centurion) that the man immediately beside him was, in fact, the Son of God!
I believe this once-mocker-turned-defender, in his final moments on earth, changed his tune, changed his mind, and put his faith in Jesus.
There is no discrepancy in the text. The only discrepancy is in the actions of Jesus. How did he go from being reviled by this man to lovingly declaring, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise”?
Oh, the matchless love of Christ!
It’s not too late! While you still have breath in your lungs, it is not too late to use that breath to say, “Jesus, remember me!”