December 14 - Luke 23:32-43

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Luke 23:32-43 – The End Begins

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he had identified with sinners. He chose to eat with them and spend time with them. These were the people he had come to save. In the final hours of his life, it was two criminals who were next to him while hanging on the cross. They walked with him along the path to the place of The Skull and their physical pain matched his as they hung on those great wooden beams. These two criminals, though, had no assurance of eternal life.

Luke used the word “Kranion” to describe the location of the execution … this Greek word is translated to Skull. The Aramaic translation is “Golgotha,” and in Latin, it is translated as “Calvariae” – Calvary. It was probably called this because of the landscape that looked like a skull and is most likely where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located today. In 33 AD it was outside of the city.

Jesus’ first words while hanging on the cross were to his executors … words of grace and forgiveness. Even at the point of extreme pain and impending death, separation from His father and the desolation of humanity’s sin, he offers forgiveness.

Notice that Luke continues to point out that it was not the Jewish people who were responsible for Jesus’ death. In Luke 23:35, we read “And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him (Jesus), saying ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’”  It was the hierarchy of Israel who pursued Jesus’ death and refused to bring about an atmosphere of repentance and obedience to God.

The Roman soldiers also mocked Jesus and offered him wine that had been soured by vinegar, calling for him to save himself. The different gospels interpret the gift of wine as either a positive or negative offering. Luke definitely perceives it as negative, since it accompanies the mocking. However, wine vinegar was a common drink among the soldiers.

Luke is the only gospel to tell the story of the two criminals. Mark and Matthew refer to their insults, but Luke is the one who tells of the rebuke by the other criminal. Jesus’ work is not yet finished. He offers Paradise to the one who believes, just before he dies on the cross.