Mighty God, may I be teachable and pliable before You; responsive and captured by the wonder of the Cross.
Read LUKE 23:26-46
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“We are strangely moved when we stand at Calvary. The old spiritual says it well,‘Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.’ It is a saving, substituting, sufficing death. Hallelujah, what a Savior” (Gardner Taylor).
Isaiah had prophesied that the suffering Servant of the Lord would be despised and rejected (Isa. 53:3), and so it turned out when the Servant came. Of the voices we hear around the cross, only that of the penitent criminal expresses any sympathy. The “people” watch silently, fixated by the macabre spectacle. The “rulers” sneer and gloat (35). The excruciating physical pain wracking Jesus’ body fails to assuage the vindictiveness of his enemies. They add to the agony by plunging razor-sharp verbal daggers into his soul. The soldiers, on duty to ensure that slowly dying victims cannot be rescued by friends, mock Jesus as they gamble for his robe (36). The first criminal hurls insults at Jesus, whom he regards as a pseudo-messiah (39).
The second bandit is different. He rebukes his criminal accomplice for railing at Jesus. Then, quite remarkably, he makes a personal plea for help (42). “Remember me” is a prayer found on gravestones of the period. Maybe it was the only prayer he knew, but it was all he needed. Jesus responds with a promise of eternal life.
According to one commentator, the interaction between Messiah and criminal is the core of the crucifixion narrative in Luke. The criminal represents the type of people Jesus has come to save—unworthy and undeserving. Jesus’ instant acceptance of this man may have been in Paul’s mind when he declared that salvation is by grace and not by works (Eph. 2:8,9). Jesus’ action makes clear that even the worst criminal can be saved. Does that mean we should pray for terrorists who plant a car bomb or attempt to blow up a plane? Perhaps. I don’t know. I only know that God’s grace is, indeed, amazing.
As today you symbolically stand before the Cross, what business do you need to transact? Trusting faith, confession, new resolves, or consecration? Pray over any issue and turn it over to the Savior.
Amazing God, melt my heart as I stand before Your majesty and mercy. Your love is truly awesome. I lift this world to You.
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