The account of the crucifixion in scripture can never get old for me. The Easter story is my favorite one of all. It elicits every emotion I have in my soul and brings forth more joy than I can ever describe. One minute I’m aching with grief over the abuse and torture of my Savior. The next I’m angry with those who nailed Him to that cross. And then again I’m grieving with Mary as she watches her son in agony and in death. Then I’m dumbfounded (is that an emotion?) and heartbroken when one of the criminals, on his deathbed, refuses God’s love. And then elated when the other humbly admits his guilt and asks for salvation – and it is granted! What a beautiful ending to these passages. And my heart is filled with love and joy, even as scripture recounts the last moments of my Jesus.
Do you feel this roller coaster ride as you approach Easter? Are you grieved and joyful at the same time? Join us today as we visit these emotions and the heart from which they come!
The passage for today begins with “two other men, both criminals, were led out with him to die”. Of the three, Jesus was the only one pure and blameless. In verse 41, one of the criminals humbly states “this man has done nothing wrong”. These three men were led to a place called Golgotha (The Skull) and each placed on a cross, with Jesus in the middle of them.
We are those criminals.
Born sinners, we are all guilty of breaking God’s rules.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
None is righteous, no, not one. Romans 3:10
We are all dying and are in need of saving.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
He Himself bore our sins so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
We all have the choice to receive salvation. Which man can you identify with? The one on the right or on the left of Jesus on the cross? The one with a soft heart or the one with a hard heart? The one who wanted to be rescued or the one who refused?
Jesus prayed to His father to forgive those who were ignorant and unknowing. Those who didn’t understand that they were crucifying the Savior of the World.
As he died, He cried out on our behalf.
Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
He could have saved himself, but then there would be no perfect sacrifice for me and you – so it was a choice between laying down His life or requiring our blood to pay the price.
He had a choice. He did it willingly.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5:8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.
Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, evenwhen we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—
1 John 4:9-11 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
He did it….
Because He loves us.
Not an ordinary love, but an extraordinary love. The kind of love that cannot be explained and is hard to understand.
The primary meaning of the word “love” in Scripture is a “purposeful commitment to sacrificial action for another.” The Greek word for this kind of sacrificial love is “agape”.
Agape love is the highest form of love, which is the love of God for mankind. It is not based on any merit of the individual. It is totally selfless and expects nothing in return.
This kind of love cries out from a cross and begs for forgiveness for someone else! Christ was in terrible agony, and He cried out for you. And me.
This is love.
Even before He rose from the grave, Christ proved He was Messiah by this kind of sacrificial love.
“Where is God? Where is He in the midst of human raggedness and suffering and pain? Somehow it is in the cross that the glory of God and His love are finally revealed.”