We remember Jesus’ death today. His death and resurrection are the center of Christianity, and how people respond to his death is vitally important for their eternal welfare.
What does Jesus’ death mean to you?
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Finally, there are those we don’t see in this passage in Luke, but who are there. Those are the ones whom Jesus carried to the cross with him, who recognize in Jesus’ death the door to forgiveness for sins and eternal life, starting right here on earth. They see Jesus’ death as the way God the Father has opened to pour out his love on those who believe in Jesus.
Those who knew him.
"And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things." (Luke 23 v49)
Why? That is the question that must have been hammering in their brains. They had invested their lives in Jesus, they had believed, they had seen the miracles and heard the teaching. They KNEW that Jesus was the Messiah. They had watched him being arrested and tortured and mocked, and those who had not completely given up hope were thinking, “He’s going to act and save himself…now! Ok…now!” But the moment never came, and now Jesus was hanging on a cross – dead!
"Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, 'Certainly this man was innocent!'" (Luke 23 v47)
He was a commander of 100 men. He had his wits about him. He experienced the darkness and earthquake and knew that this was no ordinary crucifixion. What other criminal’s death was accompanied by such incredible signs? A god must be at the bottom of it. Not just a god, the Jewish God. And he praised God because of what he had seen, concluding that Jesus was indeed a righteous man, an innocent man...
"One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, 'Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!' But the other rebuked him, saying, 'Do you not fear God...Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." (Luke 23 vv39-42)
Both criminals were in the same situation as Jesus – the death sentence had been carried out. All that remained was for it to take its long, slow effect. So slow, in fact, that the soldiers were eventually told to break the criminals’ legs so they couldn’t push themselves up to breathe anymore and so would die quickly.
In a situation where they faced unalterable death, one chose to join in the mocking of Jesus. He might be a criminal, he might have been sentenced to death for good reason, but surely that’s better than being sentenced to death for having Messianic pretensions! What a fool...
"The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, 'If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!'" (Luke 23 vv36-37)
What were they doing? The idea of the King of the Jews meant nothing to them except perhaps a quelled embryonic revolution. ‘Save yourself,’ they mocked, probably merely mimicking the Rulers. They might have had an idea that the King of the Jews was to be the Messiah, the one who saved Israel from the Roman Empire, but it meant nothing to them beyond that.