And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar. And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, This Is The King Of The Jews. Luke 23
Who forgives in the face of adversity, while mockery and insults are hurled like venomous waves of darkness, while our precious possessions are looted at the hands of those who overpower us?
What was so significant about this crucifixion that the rulers of the day were present to witness and deride this man? After all, crucifixion was the norm, it was the execution style favored by the Romans and since it was carried out in plain sight, anyone wanting to witness the gruesome act, perhaps to subconsciously avoid the peril, was welcomed to attend. Although death by crucifixion never got old, you bet the crowd was both numb and intrigued by its ploy.
The pain and suffering of the victim starkly contrasted the fascination and lure of the crowd. The soldiers carrying out this morbid act had to have acquainted the shrieks and cry for help, the sound of nail piercing flesh, the gush of anguish from a blood curdled lung, blood spilling staining the armors and uniforms, curses, the sound of a dying groan, with ‘another day for Ceasar’. Something!
Yet in the face of this brutality, Jesus Christ so true to His character, blood oozing from a thorn pierced brow flowing down into His eyes, ears probably battered by beatings, swollen eyes bloodshot and distorted, looking out on the land He was sent to save, mutters through gurgled breath, the ultimate gift of love… Father, forgive.
Where there is love, sin dies. Sin dies in the face of forgiveness. The Christ, the anointed of God, could not hold sin in His mortal body, therefore it was absolutely important that He cover the undeserving with the gift of forgiveness.
Where there is sin there is death, therefore it is with confidence that we understand that Jesus Christ gave His life instead of death taking His life. This makes perfect sense. In His last hour as the weight of evil surrounded Him in the form of scorn and physical torment, Christ gave life through forgiveness. The sense that a victim is pardoned from crimes, and even the penalty is erased with consequences removed, frees the soul from the debt of repayment and gives the sweet sound of writing a new page; another chance.
So the Christ gave life, and when He was ready to pass into the life after death, no man took his life. As the soldiers checked to see if the victims were dead, they found Jesus Christ dead, He had moved on to His next assignment, the process of passing from death to life, that He would completely accomplish eternal life for those who trust Him. That none would perish.
The little girl that is being molested, the child that has been tormented by the pain of disease, the wife that cannot fathom how love turned to murder, the young man behind bars that is still trying to sort out how life buried him in a mountain of trouble, prostitutes, gangsters, rapists… we all have another chance if with confidence we cry out to Jesus Christ.
Yes, in the dark of our night, in the silence of our screams, with bodies experiencing the tremor of tension and panic with the merciless executioner of death wielding the powerful hold of torment and control over our lives, just sound the cry for help to the only name that has the power to destroy sin and death, and trust the Lord of Glory who conquered hell and the grave to enter our hearts and bring changes with beauty beyond compare.