Read: Luke 23:33-43
It is a Friday Morning on April 3rd, AD 33, It is complete mayhem. Accusations and chaos. After a long, gruelling night, Pilate the Roman Governor is confused and conflicted. He can find nothing to condemn Jesus for but the religious leaders and crowd are demanding his execution. Against his better judgement, he releases Jesus to be murdered on a cross. An innocent man sentenced to a criminals death. His only crime, He is the King of the Jews. Pilate makes the declaration, “I find no basis to charge him.” and yet still hands him over.
Picture the scene…
Jesus, bloodied and bruised, slowly making his way through the streets, crowds staring, chanting “crucify him”, mocking… they are caught up in frenzied chaos, convinced this is the thing to do. There were some in the crowd desperate for his release; his mother and devoted followers. They were convinced, this isn’t right, this is not how it is supposed to end. He was supposed to be their King. The shock, disappointment, disillusionment are thick in the middle of the mayhem.
He arrives at the hill, is nailed to the cross, soldiers raise the cross into the air and drop it in place. There he is amongst the thieves. The injustice of it all; they are murdering the one who is supposed to be king, the one who was supposed to save them.
The sneers and mocking increase. The rulers, sneering smugly say, “He saves others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” The soldiers, their voices thick with disdain yell out, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
I imagine Jesus, in the midst of his excruciating pain, reflecting on what they were shouting at him.
Thinking…I tried to tell them. I see they are disappointed. Look at their pain, confusion and anger. Mom, I see you, I’m sorry you are hurting. You know don’t you, I must do this. Oh friend, please take care of her. Criminals with two very different hearts, I see you, I hear you. To the one seeking and repenting, I forgive you, “today you will be with me in paradise.”
It has been such a long night. My body hurts so bad, my heart even worse. If they only understood. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” Taunting me to save myself…NO, I will NOT give in to that temptation. Though this is the most bitter and painful thing I will ever have to do, I choose to save all of YOU, not myself! And Jesus, with all the strength he could muster called out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
With that, His mission was almost finished. Wait for it…Sunday is coming! Read further in Luke 24 to see the hope that can be found.
Jesus cared more about saving YOU, than himself.
Can you relate to being mocked or falsely accused? What do you want to explore more? What is your reaction to the statement above?
In the face of our doubt, disappointment, mocking and sin, Jesus offers both mercy and grace: scandalous, unmerited, favor. What would it take for you to accept this grace? What is getting in the way of you receiving the forgiveness found through the intentional choice Jesus made to rescue you from separation from God?
Jesus, thank you for caring more about rescuing me than saving yourself. Help me understand more fully the grace and forgiveness you made possible for me with your choice to die for my sins. I am looking forward to the hope that Easter provides.