Luke 23:38-43

Luke 23:38-43 … The Gospels record seven statements of Jesus from the cross of Calvary; most are recorded in other Gospel accounts, but here is the second recorded by Luke. The scene is one of shocking mockery, laughing and verbal abuse directed at the naked and suffering Savior on the Cross. Religious rulers, soldiers and common folk were all involved. Matthew and Mark tell us that even the dying thieves crucified with Jesus joined in the mockery of this ghoulish scene.

But then (Luke 23:39) there is an enlightenment in one of the crucifying thieves … “Don’t you fear God …” he said to his thief companion. This was a recognition that next to him, on an adjacent cross, was One who forgave sins, One who had even said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” It’s a seminal moment of faith for this thief. The dire circumstances won’t change, he’s being justly punished in the human element for his crimes … but his eternal outlook has changed … his spirit is born anew as he then says to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” That’s when Jesus said in response: “… today you will be with me in paradise.” Today … meaning that death had lost its sting for this suddenly believing thief … because at that moment all the egregious sins against God and fellow man that brought him to the Roman bar of justice … all those sins were blotted out and replaced by the righteousness of Christ. There are lots of things to think about as you consider what happened in that moment. One is that it’s never too late, as long as we draw breath, to acknowledge and respond to the love of God for us. Another might be this: sometimes we’re involved in things we shouldn’t be … circumstances where the crowd might be pushing us into things we’d probably avoid in a saner moment … even at those times, it’s valuable to look at God’s eternal perspective and make corrections in our own behavior and outlook.

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