Some Thoughts on Luke 23


Luke 23:1-25 says:

Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”

So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”

But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”

On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.

13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” [17] [a]

18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!”19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)

20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”

23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.


Luke 23 takes us into the heart of the one story that I really don’t like to read. I know that the knowledge of Jesus’ suffering is central to the Christian faith; but I really don’t like to think about it, let alone read it. It makes the notion that Jesus, the only truly sinless human to have ever lived, suffered such horrific injustices in the place of every person in the world, including me, 2000ish years later far too real for my comfort. I can’t wrap my head around this incredible love that is shown in Jesus throughout these gut-wrenching passages. He could have defended himself. In my opinion, He should  have defended himself. There was no reason on earth that Jesus should have died. However, this is where the heavenly part comes in and I believe shows God’s character and love perhaps more than any other passage in the Bible. God let his Son die, not because he is a heartless Father, but because he is a just and loving King. For the life of me, I cannot imagine God sitting up in heaven, looking down on all of this playing out, and being happy about it. I can only imagine God weeping for His Son as He is watching Him draw closer and closer to the most unjust death imaginable. However, He allowed all of this to happen to allow reconciliation to occur between God and a fallen world.

When sin entered the world, I imagine a great chasm being placed between humanity and God. God could have just swiped away the chasm to be reconciled with us, but that wouldn’t have been just. It says multiple times throughout the Bible that God is both just and loving. The punishment we deserve for our sins is death, so the only just thing to do in this situation is allow someone to die. This is why the Jews have a sacrificial system; to allow something to die in their place. However, this was an imperfect sacrifice, and God desired a perfect sacrifice to atone for the sins of the entire world, forever. What better way than to show incredible love for all humanity than to sacrifice your only Son (Which, if you believe in the Trinity being literal, than the Son is God in human form. That being said, God really sacrificed himself. Talk about true selflessness.), who was the only human ever to not deserve to die, because he never sinned. Ever.  The love of God shown in this situation is just too great, too huge to understand with my limited human knowledge. God as a Father didn’t want this to happen (I mean, come on. What parent wants their kid to die?), but he knew that this was the only way to reconcile the world to himself. I believe that this knowledge of God’s incredible love should so inspire and provoke people who claim to be Christians that we should desire more than anything to love radically  in ways that don’t make sense by earthly standards. God’s reasoning behind sacrificing his only Son certainly doesn’t make sense from an earthly perspective. We are kingdom people. We need to live like it. My favorite saying is that we are all called to love. (I mean, come on. Look at the title of this blog.) And I think this passage gives a great example of how deep the love should go.


How to Not Hate America After Missions

This blog was my prompt for an essay that I had to write following my mission trip to Zambia just a couple short weeks ago. I had some trouble writing this paper, because my feelings are too deep for words at the moment. But the result of my efforts is pretty good, I think. If nothing else, it helped me get some of my emotions on paper and allow me to work through this thing we call reverse culture shock. So here is a little peek into my my thoughts the past couple of weeks. Are all of my thoughts here? Good heavens, no. I have a lot of those to still work out before I can even remotely begin to put them into the English language, let alone paper. But here you go:

I can totally relate to the article “How to Not Hate America After Missions.” Although I didn’t go on an eleven month mission trip like the author did, I have struggled quite a bit with reverse culture shock. It’s not as bad as last year because I’ve gained  insight on why I feel the way I do about Africa and what the root cause of poverty actually is (which is a fallen world, NOT God. I was pretty mad at God for most of last year because I hadn’t realized that reality yet), but it is still not an enjoyable process at all. I’ve been back in America for almost three weeks now, and each day I look at the beautiful ebony faces of the children whose faces are on my dorm room wall, on my phone, and forever etched in my heart and I long to return to Zambia. It’s been really hard coming back and having only four days to repack up my life and move to an affluent part of Nashville to go to such a beautiful school when I just left my heart’s home and the children I have grown to love to the very depth of my being. I may not have showered but three times the entire time I was there and therefore smelled no better than rotting fruit and I may have had to kill my own chicken for dinner and got blood all over me, but I was so happy. So happy, that I can’t even explain it properly in words. The joy that comes from serving Jesus in the place that I know in my heart He is calling me to be is just absolutely supernatural. A messed up human like me does not deserve this incredible joy that I have when I think of my friends in Zambia.

However, this is where the reverse culture shock comes in. Quite a bit of my struggle comes in the fact that the people around me just simply don’t understand what I’m talking about; at least, not really anyway. How could they? They have no way to even remotely comprehend the vastly different culture that I love so very dearly and the conditions that I saw and experienced and cried over in anger and sadness. They have no way to understand the deep friendships that were formed in just ten days; that my heart has been even more ripped out for Zambia and her people than it ever was last year. People look at me funny when I say that my dream is to one day live there; they just don’t understand that I truly believe that that is where God is calling me to go. However, the reverse culture shock goes a bit deeper when I wrestle internally with questions that I just don’t know the answer to.

How is it that I’ve grown up with such wonderful, loving parents, in a nice home, have a nice car, have wonderful friends, have the opportunity to continue my education at an awesome school in a beautiful part of Nashville, when people all over the world are suffering and dying and are victims of injustice, earthquakes, devastation? How is it that I’ve been so blessed when 153 million children around the world don’t have a mommy or daddy who knows what they like and don’t like to eat and will tuck them in at night and calm them if they have a bad dream? I don’t know, and I probably won’t ever completely know the answer, but I do know that Luke 12:48 says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” And I have been given so much. My prayer is that I never forget how blessed I am and to act accordingly. To live a life of constant service to God and to my neighbor, whatever continent that might be on. It’s a wonderfully difficult and beautiful place to be, when Jesus wrecks my life. I’m not going to lie though, it’s very hard sometimes to look at all the stuff I have and think back to my friends in Zambia who sleep on dirt and maybe have a pair of clothes to call their own but are so very happy. But it is a beautifully wonderful place to be, this place where Jesus is opening my eyes continually to my own stupidity and humanness and breaking my heart for what breaks His.  

Getting thrust into a state of humility by God is not the most enjoyable thing. It is actually awful sometimes, because a lot of tears come with it as He gently moves me rung by rung down the proverbial ladder of society so that I begin to realize that I really should have no one to impress on this earth. My only goal should be to worship Him and serve others. But as I said in the previous paragraph, it is a wonderfully beautiful place to be once I get there. Moving down the ladder, though, is tough. This process becomes easier when I submit to His will for me and allow myself to remember the children and people that I met in Zambia who truly have no one to impress, and live lives of true humility. For example, Jean, my sponsored child, insisted on carrying my heavy backpack for me. I tried to tell her that it was too heavy for her, but she wouldn’t listen. She took it from me and put it on her back. She wasn’t doing it to make herself look better; she genuinely wanted to help out her friend. I pray that one day I will get to that point of child-like humility that Jean is, and live it out every day.

Esther 4:14 which ends with, “…And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” I am, by much of the world’s standards, right up there with royalty as far as riches go. By American standards, my family is not rich. But to the third world and developing nations, we are kings. Material possessions aren’t bad, I don’t think. I do think, though, that the issue comes in when we become so consumed with the consumption of more, more, more, that we forget that God blessed us to be a blessing to others. God did not make too many people and not enough resources. God doesn’t work like that. So, what am I going to do about it? I could have been born two hundred years ago to a rich European family, or I could have been born to a single mother in Tanzania who can barely afford to feed herself, let alone a child. I could have been born in Russia during the Soviet empire. We could have been born at any time, in any place, and in any life circumstance. But I wasn’t. I was born here and now for a specific purpose, which I truly believe is to end up in Zambia one day and serve the people of that beautiful nation through providing them with medical care and access to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

What will happen in the meantime, I’m not for certain. Not for certain at all. I’m in an affluent neighborhood of Nashville being given this incredible opportunity to be one of the approximately  1% of people in the world who have college degrees, and I will take full advantage of that. If I had all the time, money, and resources in the world, I would of course do everything in my power to alleviate extreme poverty across the world. However, I don’t have that kind of money, time, or resources. I am just Rachel Pampe, a girl from rural Illinois who has been thrown into urban Nashville, doesn’t really know anyone here yet, and has very limited funds with which to use. But, I do have so many opportunities to serve the less fortunate people of this community right at my fingertips thanks to Lipscomb University. I have churches on pretty much every corner who I am sure if asked would love volunteers. I have suite mates that I can tell the stories about my friends in Africa and the amazing things that God is doing through them to. The story hasn’t ended, although right now it kind of feels like it has when I see my Zambian pictures and feel sad. It is just beginning, this adventure that God is setting me on. Yes, I may be back in materialistic America, and yes, it may feel uncomfortable, but the God who sent me to Zambia is the same God who brought me back. I may not like that He brought me back to the USA, but I have to trust that there is a reason for it.

What They Don’t Tell You About Mission Trips

This is not my writing (obviously). But it words my struggles this past year with reverse culture shock in such a beautiful way that I can’t seem to find the words for. So, here it is, the story of a struggle to reenter a society once thought of as home, but after a holy experience in a place halfway around the world, seems far-off, distant, and much less like home.

Scripting Grace

I took a 2-hour flight from Lusaka to Johannesburg, 11-hour flight to London, and then hopped on a 9-hour flight that finally carried me home to the great state of Georgia about a week ago. I wobbled and swayed under the weight of too many bags (see if you can find all 5 in the picture) as I stumbled out of the Hartsfield-Jackson baggage claim. I was greeted with warm embraces and the familiar humidity of the South, and I was happy to be home. I had missed my family, I had missed my boyfriend, and I had missed my town. I was ready for familiar food and my own comfy bed. But I would soon come to realize that spending 6 weeks in a foreign culture has some strange effects on your former understanding of “familiar.”


The first wave of shock came when I stepped through the church doors Sunday morning…

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Only 45 days until I get to hop on a plane and go see, hug, and play with these little goobers and finally be reunited with my heart! I am beyond excited!!!


Please pray for my Aunt Rosemary

My Aunt Rosemary was taken into surgery about ten minutes ago for a mass on her brain. She has been diagnosed with melanoma, but the cancer has since spread to several areas, including her lungs and her brain. Please, please, please pray for her and the whole family during this time.

The blessing of not really knowing

Some people ask me, why do you want to live in a third world country? Why? Why do you want to throw away your chance at the American dream forever? Why? Why do you want to be surrounded by poverty and sickness when you could have a little house with a white picket fence in the suburbs, a nice car, a hot husband, and two kids? This is why. This blog words it so well and so beautifully. God is at work in places that most people don’t dare to go to. God is working in amazing, mind-boggling ways, all over the world. I want to be a minuscule part of God’s amazing work around the globe. I know He is calling me to medical missions. My heart is ripped out; part of it is in Zambia. I will never get that part back, and I thank God for that. My desire is to return to Zambia permanently one day and start a clinic, but over the past several months, I have learned that the best way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans. He has turned my view of the world upside down; He has ripped my heart out. He has forever ruined me of ever longing for a little house with a white picket fence in the suburbs, a nice car, a hot husband, and two kids (“The American Dream”). I may end up in Zambia. Maybe not. I do know for sure, though, that God is calling me into global mission work. It kind of scares me sometimes, this whole “not knowing” thing. I don’t know where I’ll end up. I could end up in Zambia, I could end up in the Amazon jungle, I could end up in a remote village in the South Pacific, etc. Only God knows. And yes, I am starting to learn to be ok with that, but my human self wants to know. I want to know my plan. I want to have a five year, ten year, twenty year plan. But that is not what God wants from me. He wants me to trust Him. With everything. And that’s kind of hard. But you know, each time I say yes to God’s idea for me instead of saying yes to my own silly plans, saying yes to Him gets easier.

Dear Lord, please be with Araon and his mother as they battle this horrible disease. Give them peace. And be with Dr. Judy in the Loma de Luz hospital. Give her the strength to do what You ask of her so that she can help further Your kingdom. Thank You for turning my plans upside down and showing me that You have a totally different plan for me. Thank You so much that You have a plan for all of us; a plan so great that we can’t fathom it. Please help us all to trust that You’ve got our backs, no matter what, no matter where You may send us. You really are awesome. Amen.

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