Forty years ago, I read a book by Jürgen Moltmann entitled, “The Crucified God.” When we think about it, the fact that the Son of God was willing to suffer and die for us is completely unheard of in any other world religion.
As we travel with Jesus to the cross, let’s observe what was taking place in Jerusalem.
— Luke 23.26 – We first meet Simon of Cyrene. He had come in from the country and was compelled to carry the cross of Jesus.
Mark notes that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus (Mark 15.21). Paul mentions Rufus in his greetings to the church in Rome (Romans 16.13).
There is a spiritual principle at work in these verses. When a parent carries the cross of Christ in discipleship, their children are likely to be followers too.
— Luke 23.27 – The “people” who have been a subject of interest to Luke are mentioned at the beginning of Jesus’ walk to the cross.
For the most part of Luke, the “people” have been a buffer between Jesus and his religious opponents. Let’s keep the people in mind as we meditate on the events of Jesus’ crucifixion. They reveal something about faith in Christ.
There will be more about the “people” in tomorrow’s blog article.
— Luke 23.27 – Luke recalls the women “who were beating their breasts and wailing for him.”
Even though women had no status in the first century, Jesus had devoted followers who were women. Like the “people,” the women play an important role in the crucifixion and resurrection story.
— Luke 23.28-31 – Jesus slowed his trek to Golgotha to prophesy to the women about the future suffering that the world would face.
His words about suffering are reminiscent of Isaiah’s message of woe for an idolatrous and rebellious world.
— Luke 23.32 – Two criminals are introduced to the picture on the day when the Son of God was crucified for the sins of the world.
Notice who Luke emphasizes in his account. The “people,” women, and criminals are featured. They are the very ones who are the focal point of God’s ministry.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4.18-19)
— Luke 23.33 – 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 and the other Gospel writers are very modest when they speak of the crucifixion. Crucifixion was gory, humiliating, unbearably painful, and much more. Yet, Luke simply writes, “they crucified Jesus.”
As I meditated on this passage last night, I realized that there was no way for Jesus to get comfortable on the cross. There was no position that would give him any relief for the six hours he hung between heaven and earth.
— Luke 23.34 – Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
From the moment Jesus ended his time of prayer in the Garden, he was in complete control of everything that took place.
As the Savior of the world, he fulfilled the Father’s loving agenda for humanity. He was on the cross to enable sinners to be forgiven.
His sacrifice and his prayer were for rebels and transgressors to be forgiven.
The Crucified God
Paul put the cosmic nature of Jesus’ crucifixion into words.
— 2 Corinthians 5.17-19 – So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;
That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
Moltmann is right with the title of his book. God was in Christ on the cross, bringing the world into a right relationship with himself.
We can become a new creation with the old forgiven and a new start in life, because of his sacrifice.
We new creatures in Christ have been entrusted to helping others understand and experience God reconciling love.
Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage. You will appreciate Rudy’s insights that expand our understanding of this momentous event. The video is on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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