We enter the biblical text at the place they call the Skull, where Jesus is being crucified between two criminals. Onlookers sneer and sob. Mockers exclaim, “Save yourself as you saved others.” Silent followers weep as they watch their hopes for a political messiah hang on a cross between two thieves. No media, no fanfare, no reporters, no live stream—just eyewitnesses watching the execution of two criminals and a King.
What crime warrants Jesus’ crucifixion? In Roman culture, the authorities hang a sign dictating the nature of the crime above the head of the crucified to warn others of actions punishable by death. Jesus’ crime, written in three languages, states, “This is the King of the Jews.” No one imagines Jesus’ crucifixion as the inauguration of the reign of Christ the King and the ushering in of the kingdom of God.
Jesus bears the weight of the world’s guilt and shame on the cross. Jesus’ death offers an atonement for sins—the innocent dies so the guilty can be set free. Now we can become one with God again. Jesus lives and dies initiating God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
As these horrific experiences unfold, Jesus utters words of forgiveness to those who are crucifying him: “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (niv). Blinded by fear, greed, selfishness, corruption, and living apart from God’s divine plan and purpose, they do not know what they are doing when they crucify Jesus. We too are guilty of living apart from God’s divine purpose and plan. We too need God’s forgiveness, love, mercy, and grace.
Hope is not destroyed at the place of the Skull. Hope and faith are now keys that give us access to a personal, life-changing relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Thank you, Christ our King, for offering us forgiveness of our sins, peace with God, and access to the kingdom of God. Amen.
Our readings for the week highlight the Reign of Christ. Jeremiah prophesies about a future King from the line of David who will bring justice, righteousness, and security for the people of God. Luke 1 records the song of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. Zechariah praises God for raising up salvation from the house of David as God had promised through the prophets. This child will bring mercy, forgiveness, and light. Luke 23 recounts part of the story of the death of Jesus. Here Jesus, the Light of the world, dies as an act of mercy for our forgiveness. In Colossians, Christ holds first place above everything else. Through his death we are forgiven and brought from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.
Read Jeremiah 23:1-6. How do you trust in God’s promises to bring safety and justice as you watch unjust rulers oppress and abandon their followers?
Read Luke 1:68-79. What will you say when you break your silence?
Read Colossians 1:11-20. Recall a time when you waited for something in great anticipation. How did your faith help you find patience?
Read Luke 23:33-43. How do you recognize Christ as King when you experience or witness suffering?
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