“When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.” (Luke 23:33)
What reign of a king starts out like that? With the king dying? Almost seems like it is backwards and upside down, doesn’t it? That’s not a unique perspective, but taken from the title of a book, “The Upside Down Kingdom” and it examines Christ’s ministry and how it was not at all what was expected.
“Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing.” (Verse 34)
Forgive them for doing the incorrect thing. I have been challenged by the sentiment lately – I think beloved reader you can guess why. It is something I am learning to do. I suspect it will take time to perfect that learning, and I am praying that the Lord God continues to instruct me on it.
“And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” (Verses 35 – 38)
But the focus of and in this passage is Christ, and his coming to his time of reign. And not about me and my needs.
“One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” (Verses 39 – 41)
I am reminded once again of this year’s theme – confession, penance, and forgiveness. None of us are perfect and all are deserving of condemnation. And apart from Christ, I believe, we are condemned. In the eyes and judgment of God that is based on absolute perfection we have all fallen short. But, thanks be to God, in the Lord’s perfection is perfect love.
“Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Verses 42 – 43)
Christ’s reign is like no other kingly reign. It is not confined to time or place; it ignores or supersedes any other rule or law. Its rule is exacting, but its grace, mercy, and forgiveness is unending. Without it all of humanity is lost. But with it if we will but accept it, embrace it, fulfill it, and live it out – we will be saved! Selah!