Our scripture this week is Luke 23:33-43.
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 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. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
We are so familiar with this story but it still makes us uneasy to hear it. Jesus knew what He was called to do and He was willing to give Himself up for us. Perhaps we feel the guilt of knowing that He took our sin upon Himself in order to save us from eternal death.
Jesus wasn’t bitter and even during this painful process He is still able to forgive those who are executing Him as well as promise one who dies beside Him that forgiveness and salvation are there for the asking. Jesus kept up His mission right to the end.
Jesus offers us the same forgiveness and salvation, but also the same risk. It isn’t easy to be a disciple and He wants us to know that from the start. We are called to follow Him no matter what the cost as He was willing to suffer the cost for us.
Gracious God, we are amazed at the mercy You send us in Jesus and the gift of saving love that we are offered. Help us to be joyful followers, even in the face of adversity, that like Him we may be faithful unto death. Amen.