The Death of the King

OPENING PRAYER

God of My Salvation, You poured out Your life to death that I might be forgiven. Let me extend forgiveness freely.

 

Read: LUKE 23:26-46

[26] As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. [27] A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. [28] Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. [29] For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’[30] Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”‘ [31] For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” [32] Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. [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. [35] 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.” [36] The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar [37]and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” [38] There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. [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.” [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. 

 

Reflect: WHY WERE THESE THE LAST PHRASES OF JESUS BEFORE DEATH?

Jesus is crucified as a criminal, yet, ironically, the placard above his head proclaims that he is “King of the Jews” (38). Three groups of people in the story question this title: the religious leaders, the Roman soldiers, and a criminal. All three groups do not understand that Jesus’ kingship is meant to bring salvation, and they mock Jesus for not saving himself.They do not understand salvation. Jesus’ salvation is not about self-preservation; it’s about forgiveness. Jesus’ initial words on the cross are a cry for forgiveness for everyone involved in his death. Only the second criminal recognizes Jesus as King and shows faith in Jesus’ ability to save. Jesus’ death and resurrection defeat the power of sin and hold out forgiveness as sin’s antidote. We receive salvation because Jesus has forgiven us. His salvation means embracing forgiveness as a way of life. But forgiveness is not easy. Forgiving someone who has hurt you or acted unjustly towards you may be a difficult path. Forgiveness does not equate to condoning sin or allowing others to take advantage of you. Sometimes forgiveness means naming the sin and offering forgiveness, whatever the response.

 

APPLY

Spend some time confessing your sins and asking God if there is anyone whom he wants you to forgive.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty God, You are full of power, yet You humbled Yourself to make a way that I might be free.

 

Syndicated via Scripture Union
www.scriptureunion.org