Read Luke 23:32-49.
The significance--and the scandal--of Christianity is bound up in Christ's death on the cross. Luke's account of the crucifixion provides us with a number of perspectives from which to see and understand. Keeping in mind our present situation, we need to find our role and the role of Christ in this drama of the cross.
The story speaks for itself well enough. We see the two criminals: one angry and sarcastic, the other penitent and imploring. We see the crowd looking on and the soldiers and rulers mocking and jeering, casting lots for Jesus' clothes. Through it all, Jesus seems to be a person at peace with the world. He forgives those who kill him. He assures the one criminal seeking comfort. Jesus is also at peace with himself and with God. "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" Jesus stands confidently in the face of death.
How do we stand in the face of death? Perhaps we are, like Jesus, at peace, confident that death is part of our plan and purpose. Or perhaps we are like the crowd, just looking, not quite certain what it all means. Or perhaps we are like the soldiers and rulers, not a little sarcastic of this one who would save others but who evidently cannot save himself. Are we like the one criminal, angry and bitter at the Christ who does not save us from death? Or do we identify with the other criminal, seeking some assurance that God will remember me?
At the moment of Jesus' death, the whole scene changes. The centurion standing by praises God and declares Jesus innocent. The crowd returns home beating their breasts in sorrow. What has happened? Could it be that an innocent person has died without being angry or despairing? Could it be that Christ died because of us? Could God love us so much that he would send his beloved Son to die for us?
Only a risen and living Christ can tell us. And if he does live, this Christ would be one who is able to know and share our pain and tears. This Christ would be one who would stand with us in the face of death, and he would also comfort us with the hope that goes beyond death.
|Lord, we stand at a crossroad in life. Hold before us your cross that we may see and know that you share our suffering, that you grieve with us, that you do love us so much that you would die for us. Give us your peace and your hope that you have overcome death. We are sorry, Lord. We are in sorrow, Lord. We are thankful for your sacrifice and victory, Lord. Amen.|
©1998 Mark Vitalis Hoffman - CrossMarks Christian Resources - www.CrossMarks.com