1.30 Synoptics -- The Crucifixion
Mat 27:37, Mk 15:26, Lk 23:38. The Romans put a sign on the Cross, reading "king of the Jews." What was spoken over Jesus at birth in adoration by the wise men (Mat 2:2), was written over him at death in mockery by the Gentiles. John wrote that the Jewish leaders protested to Pilate about the wording on the sign, but Matthew and Mark wrote that they joined in insulting him. But behind this human verdict made in jest was that of God in earnest. He sometimes uses the strangest vessels to speak his truth: the Romans, like Balaam’s ass, were unlikely prophets.
And with the crucifixion, the Old Covenant comes to an end. The transition time between Old and New Covenants, which was the life of Christ, is done. The Law is fulfilled, it is completed, "it is finished." It is similar to a single-car wreck, in which the driver alone at night drives off the road and crashes. In this case, God provided the vehicle, the Covenant and its accoutrements, and the generations of Jews are the driver. He ignores the street signs and speed limits, and even the direct warnings of the police. He is sure he knows how to drive and where he is going, he even has a map that tells him where to go. But most of all he trusts himself, because he is an experienced driver and no hothead. And when the road takes an unexpected curve, he keeps on going straight ahead, leaves the path, and smashes head-on into a Tree.
There is no repairing the car. The Old Covenant cannot be rehabilitated. On the day of Pentecost, a new vehicle will be provided. And look -- this time it comes with a chauffeur! History has proven that man cannot be trusted to drive the things of God, so he is relegated to the passenger seat. But who is the driver? A Person not well known to Jew or Gentile till now – the Holy Spirit takes the controls. And the passengers? -- why, we find ourselves with some very odd seatmates, people who may not look like us or speak our language.
But the plan and purpose of God are continuous, they transfer from the wrecked vehicle. The light of faith is still burning, and the abiding Presence is the gasoline that fuels the engine.