Day 25 – Soldiers obey orders

Bible reading: Luke 23:32–46

32 The soldiers also took two other men out of the prison. These men had done bad things. The soldiers were going to kill them and Jesus together. 33 They took them to the place that is called ‘The Skull’. There they fixed Jesus to a cross to die. They also fixed the two bad men to crosses. One of these men was on the right side of Jesus. The other was on his left side.

23:33The skull is the name of the bone inside a human head.

34 Jesus said, ‘Father, these people do not know what they are doing. So please forgive them.’

The soldiers then picked up Jesus' clothes for themselves. They played a game to decide who would receive each piece of his clothes. 35 The people stood there and they were watching. The Jewish leaders were laughing at Jesus. They said, ‘He saved other people, did he? Then he should save his own life! Then we will know that he is really the Messiah, the man that God has chosen.’

36 The soldiers also laughed at him. They came up to him and they offered him cheap wine to drink. 37 They said, ‘If you are really the King of the Jews, save your own life.’

38 There was also a notice fixed at the top of the cross. It said, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’

39 One of the bad men on a cross at the side of Jesus started to say bad things against him. He shouted, ‘You say that you are the Messiah, don't you? Then save your own life and save our lives too!’

40 But the bad man on the other cross told him that he should be quiet. He said, ‘You should be more afraid of God. We will die here, as well as him. 41 We two men have done very bad things. So, it is right that we should die. But this man has not done anything wrong.’ 42 Then the man said to Jesus, ‘Remember me, Jesus, when you start to rule in your kingdom.’ 43 Jesus replied, ‘I promise you, today you will be with me in paradise.’

Jesus dies

44 It was now about midday. The whole country became dark for three hours. 45 The sun did not give any light. Then the curtain inside God's Great House tore into two parts. 46 Then Jesus shouted loudly, ‘Father, I give my spirit to you.’ After he shouted this, he died.

Luke 23:32-46 EasyEnglish Bible (EASY)

Reflection

The soldiers did their awful job and nailed two murderers to crosses, with Jesus on a third one between them. Instead of curses and struggles, Jesus amazingly asked his heavenly Father to forgive his torturers. Despite people’s bitter scorning around the base of the cross, a magnificent truth became obvious. He saved others but he could not save himself. You see, he was taking the place of all of us, taking responsibility for all the evil in the world.

He willingly let the whole penalty fall on him so that we should never have to suffer it. That is the true meaning of his death on the cross. And we can have one of two reactions to that.

Scorn or remember

We can scorn and reject him, as one of the murderers did. Or we can say, with the other one, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.’ Amazing that this dying murderer turned to the person bleeding next to him and asked to be remembered! Amazing that he believed Jesus had a kingdom to go to after his death! Amazing that he trusted he would be welcome!

Immediately, the dying Saviour tells him, ‘Today you will be with me in God’s garden.’ (That’s the meaning of ‘paradise’.) That was good news. Good news that he would die that day and not delay for two or three days. Good news that he would be with Jesus. Good news that, wicked though he was, all he had to do was to trust Jesus. Faith, trust in Jesus, would gain him acceptance.

Starting a good relationship again

He had lived an evil life. He had never been to worship or been baptized, but trust in the Saviour would put him (and us) in a good relationship with God.