Jesus is crucified (Luke 23:33, 47)
33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals--one on his right, the other on his left.
47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man."
It has often been the case that these narratives have been read to prove either Jesus divinity or humanity and thus it is possible that in many cases the primary point of the author has been overshadowed. Yes, it is good to establish a foundation for these necessary doctrines, but what if in doing so the very texts that are intended to highlight the one have been flipped upside down to emphasize the other. “They crucified him there, along with the criminals.” I could not be more astounded by the height of humility expressed by the Divine in this very moment. Yes we learn something about Jesus humanity in this moment, but oh! do we ever behold something about what the essence of God truly is.
Father, give us the mental capacity to behold the depths of our King’s humility, and thus in turn reflect that attitude to our faith-communities, neighbors, co-workers, and enemies.
Jesus promises the kingdom to the good thief (Luke 23:33-34, 39-43)
33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals--one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." 42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. " 43 Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."
Shai Linne has written a song titled “Through My Eyes.” You can access a video here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-qWSPRWsjs) which includes the audio of the song as well as the lyrics. This may not be your particular preference in music style but give it a chance. I think when you take a moment to listen you will begin to experience and feel the situation that unfolds for this man in the last few minutes of his life. A situation which is astounding to say the least. A criminal hanging on a cross is transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the Son--the very kingdom which is being inaugurated in Jesus death on the cross next to the criminal.
Father, help us to daily see ourselves as those who have been miraculously rescued from the kingdom of darkness and placed into the kingdom of your dear Son.
Jesus on the cross, his mother and his disciple (John 19:25-27)
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, "Woman, here is your son," 27 and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Once again, I take in the incredible others focused mindset that Jesus demonstrates from the cross. He has no thought for himself: rather forgiveness for sinners, protection for family, and ultimately glory for the Father.
Spirit, work in us today the ability to put the interests of others before our own interests.
Jesus dies on the cross (Luke 23:44-46)
44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Three things stand out to me as I read these verses: 1. Creation itself begins to join in the horrific scene that is unfolding. In a sense it is now adding its voice in the narrative 2. Jesus has now ripped open access for all to approach the Father as never before 3. Jesus demonstrates unwavering trust in the Father.
Blessed Lord Jesus, No human mind could conceive or invent the gospel. Acting in eternal grace, thou art both its messenger and its message, lived out on earth through infinite compassion, applying thy life to insult, injury, death, that I might be redeemed, ransomed, freed. Blessed be thou, O Father, for contriving this way, Eternal thanks to thee, O Lamb of God, for opening this way, Praise everlasting to thee, O Holy Spirit, for applying this way to my heart. Glorious trinity, impress the gospel on my soul, until its virtue diffuses every faculty; Let it be hear, acknowledged, professed, felt. (Valley of Vision)
Jesus is placed in the tomb (Luke 23:50-54)
50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
Joseph’s actions and Luke’s comments about this man are very interesting to me. Unlike the men on the road to Emmaus, had Joseph perceived that “the Messiah [would] have to suffer these things and then enter his glory”? Unlike the disciples, had he seen the truth about Jesus in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms that the “Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day”? The evidence is not overwhelming, but it is interesting that Luke describes him as one who “was waiting for the kingdom of God.” And this waiting corresponds with the great anticipation that Heaven and Earth would express on this special Sabbath watching for the dawning of the first day of the week.