Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

20. Courage at the Cross – Part 2

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Luke 23:32-49

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 seeing both the reality and results of Christ’s death we come to a critical question, what will be our response to His death on the cross? It’s here in the witnesses of the crucifixion that we see 4 different responses to the Redeemer.

  1. The Responses to Christ’s Death

The first response is that of the:

  • Scoffers

These were the indignant, those who hated Jesus and hurled their insults at Him while He hung on the cross. Peter, who had denied Jesus just hours before, wrote about this scene in 1 Peter 2:23: “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” These scoffers launched a verbal assault attacking Jesus. They strung their bows with their self-righteous strings and launched their hardened arrows of hate. Jesus could have retaliated, He could have come down from the cross and crushed them. He could have wiped them out with a single word. But instead of retaliation, He chose redemption. With His body wracked with pain, his eyes blinded by his own blood, his lungs gasping for air He prayed in Luke 23:24, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” If ever a person deserved a shot at revenge, surely it was Jesus. But He didn’t take a shot at the scoffers; instead, He sacrificed for them. So let me ask you, how do you respond when people ridicule you? Do you respond with retaliation or with righteousness? Do you seek to hurt those who hurt you or do you seek to bring healing? In Philippians 2:3-8 Paul calls us to model the mindset of Christ as he says, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” What about you, are you going to respond out of a hurt heart or a humble heart? The second response was that of the:

  • Spectators

These were the indifferent, the ones who were attracted by the execution. As they showed up on the scene they stopped and stared. Just like how we might slow down to see an accident as we are driving by. The Bible says that as they watched, they began to drift away, one by one. Luke 23:48: “When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and walked away.” Beating your chest in Bible times was a sign of guilt and remorse. They came to watch but walked away convicted because they witnessed the work of God. Their indifference was replaced with remorse. They may have come to witness a show, but they left with feelings of woe. They couldn’t look at God without seeing their guilt and realizing their role in putting Him on the cross. When we watch movies that show the crucifixion of Christ we often find ourselves getting angry with the soldiers who stripped and whipped Jesus but do we realize that we are also responsible for marking the Messiah. They came because of the commotion and left because of the conviction. What about you, how do you respond to the cross, is your response one of callousness or conviction?

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