Read: Luke 23:26-56
As usual, Dr. Luke packs a ton of information into a relatively few verses. In these verses, we see several encounters with Jesus. Through each of these responses it’s easy to see ourselves—none of us respond to Jesus fully like these people all the time, but all of us respond to Jesus like these people some of the time.
26 And when they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, as he was coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus.
If you’ve seen the Passion of the Christ, I think it does a good job of depicting this scene. Simon may have been passing by when he was conscripted to help Christ carry the cross. We do not know his backstory or if he trusted Jesus as the Messiah. However, it seems as if he was an unwilling bystander put to work for Jesus. Frankly, I think that’s how a lot of people feel. They do not have a saving relationship with Jesus, but they become a “helper.” Maybe it’s when their kids get to an age and they want them to learn morality, so they come back to church. Maybe it’s the teenager that gets drug to church unwillingly. Even after conversion we all experience moments of begrudging service to Christ.
39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!”
Many of us aren’t this overt in our denial of Jesus, but we know people who are. However, all of us struggle at times with failing to recognize Jesus for who He is. Likewise, the criminal’s taunting words, “Save yourself and us,” sound like prayers that many people pray. We focus on immediate felt needs rather than eternal. We want Jesus to answer our prayers our way—on our terms. And sometimes we don’t have the faith to believe He can do the thing that we’re asking Him to do.
42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
The second criminal expressed genuine saving faith. He defended Jesus, understood His innocence, and acknowledged His power. However, how many times do we wait to cry out to Jesus until we’re in dire despair? I’m not accusing this man of anything, but I’ve seen this repeatedly. Don’t wait until your life is in ruins to turn to Jesus.
47 Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God, saying, “This man was in fact innocent.”
Here is a fourth figure who said that Jesus was innocent in this chapter (Pilate, Herod, a criminal, and now a centurion). One day every person will acknowledge Jesus for who He is (Philippians 2:10–11). As we have heard, the Good News is only good if it gets there in time.
50 And a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man 51 (he had not consented to their plan and action), a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God— 52 this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
Joseph was a faithful disciple of Christ. He dissented from the Council’s actions. He acted boldly to associate himself with a crucified person. He shared in Jesus’ shame, he provided expensive resources, and even defiled himself ceremonially by touching a dead body.
Seeing Joseph, we are challenged to ask, am I this faithful to Christ?
By: Tyler Short
Good word for this Good Friday, Tyler.
“I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Every time I read these words it sends a chill down my spine. This criminal’s simple act of repentance & acknowledging Jesus as the son of God in the final hours of his life saved his very soul. Notice what the criminal didn’t do:
1) He didn’t come down from the cross and do good works
2) He didn’t get baptized
3) He didn’t join the church and get in the good graces of Christ followers
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Several days ago in Jumpstart comments I said that no one is ever too far gone to be saved by the grace & mercy of Jesus. As long as a man has breath and makes the good confession like the criminal on the cross, Jesus will say to him, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise”.
Looking forward to remembering Jesus’ great sacrifice with church family tonight at our Good Friday services.
"... he is the king of the Jews, the king of the church, and his cross is the way to his crown."
Matthew Henry, on Luke 23:38
You made me stop and wonder about Simon of Cyrene. I wonder who he was? I wonder how this experience changed him?
I also noticed the officer. He probably was a witness to a lot of men’s deaths. I wonder how this impacted him?
I have never seen before that the crowd went away sad. I always saw them jeering and mocking, but never noticed that they all suddenly sobered when the sky went dark, the veil tore, and Jesus deliberately laid down his life.
Unfortunately, Tyler, for most of us it takes a life in shambles to wake us up. That's what happened to me, but like the woman washing Jesus' feet with her tears, I am all the more grateful for what He's done in my life. I can't help but cry when I worship Him and pray to Him. I'm just so overwhelmed with gratitude.
An observation: the Jewish leaders could have stoned Jesus themselves, just like they did many prophets before Him. But they insisted on having Him crucified, just as prophesied. So blinded!