32 Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. 33 When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. 35 The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. 37 They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” 40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” 44 By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 45 The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. 46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last. 47 When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” 48 And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow. 49 But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.
After the scoffers and the spectators next we see:
- The Seekers
Unlike the indignant and the indifferent, these are the interested. But compared to the scoffers the seeker’s group always seems small. In fact, scripture records only 2 seekers, one a thief who was nailed to the cross next to Jesus, the other was the captain of the soldiers. Two men, a criminal, and a centurion. The centurion witnessed the scourging, the mocking, the spitting, the crucifixion, the indignant scoffers, and the indifferent spectators. He heard everything that Christ said on the Cross, including his powerful prayer of forgiveness and the final cry when Christ voiced the victory. As a battle-hardened soldier there would have been no mistaking Christ’s final cry of victory. Here was a man who didn’t just watch he witnessed the work of God. He may have started out viewing Jesus as just an ordinary criminal, but, as he watched he witnessed the wonder of God. Here was a man who investigated, who as he pondered and processed ended up proclaiming saying, “Surely, this man was the Son of God!’” It’s here that we see even the warrior, the one who was weary of God break down and worship. Is your response to witnessing the wonder of God one of worship? What will be your response, are you going to walk away or worship? Isn’t it amazing that the two who responded to the Redeemer, were the criminal and the centurion, the foreigner and enemy of God’s people. The centurion didn’t just come to a conclusion about Christ he publicly declared his decision. What about you, have you come to a conclusion about Christ? Are you going to proclaim it or keep it private? The last group were the:
These are the intimate, the friends and followers of Jesus. They came to the cross but they didn’t come close. They stayed at a safe distance because they were scared. Here are His disciples watching from a safe distance, how like us today, trying to playing it safe instead of being sold out for the Savior. Yet despite the distance, they still witnessed the work of God. No matter how far the distance, no matter how far you have drifted from God you can come to the cross. Jesus is dying to reach you. So let me ask you which group best describes where you are spiritually? Are you an indignant scoffer, angry at the Almighty? Are you an indifferent spectator? Willing to hang around until you feel some guilt, and then you just walk away? Are you an intrigued seeker? Drawn to Jesus and interested enough to investigate Him? Or, are you in the camp of the intently saved? A follower of Christ but one who has grown distant? What will it take to move you closer to Christ? That’s really the question for each of us. The centurion started out as an indignant scoffer who became an indifferent spectator, but as he watched, he became an intrigued seeker, but by his bold confession, he believed. His faith activated his acquittal and gave him access to God. Spiritually where are you at in the process, you can’t be passive. There’s something about the Crucifixion of Christ that caused everyone to witness it, to either move closer to the cross or move further away. The cross compels some and repelled others. The scoffers and spectators walked away from the Cross while the seekers and the saved took a step closer. When it comes to forgiveness don’t sit on the fence. You can’t remain neutral, the cross calls us to make a choice, one that will either resulting in walk away from Christ or worshiping Christ. The Centurion had the courage to come and confess Christ. What about you are you courageously confessing Jesus? He came and died for you, now it’s your move are you willing to come closer to the Cross?
If you’re a scoffer, why don’t you take a step closer and become a spectator?
If you’re a spectator, why don’t you take a step closer and become a seeker?
If you’re a seeker, maybe it’s time for you to become saved.
If you’re saved, it’s time for you to come closer to the cross and surrender.