Good Friday

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 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. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing.

And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:32-43

Today we stand, together, under the cross.

Today we remember how our sin – our missing the mark, our real or imagined mistakes, what we have done or what we have left undone – has damaged every relationship in our lives. Has torn the fabric of creation. Has made life just a little more difficult than it already is.

We remember how our stomachs revolted when we made fun of other people, or bullied them, knowing it was wrong but doing it anyway. Just to get a laugh. Or to elevate ourselves. Or so we thought.

We remember our dishonesty. Our white lies. Our blatant, self protective, lies. The lies we told so often we began to believe them ourselves. Or so we thought. Greed. Lust. All that we deny and pretend and stuff.

We remember when people made fun of us. When people abandoned us. When people disappointed us. When people betrayed us.

We remember the self pride and the self loathing we connect to winning and losing. The social hierarchies that followed us from family to school to daily work to neighborhood. All of it, dust. All of it, distraction.

Jesus fell victim to both a political system based on power and domination and a religious system based on the very same things. “Love of country” is a dangerous cliche if it is not directly underscored with “love of people.” Jesus loved people. The powers of the people killed him. But still Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

Jesus is giving us the benefit of the doubt on that one. Often we know exactly what we’re doing but we do it anyway.

Jesus didn’t die alone. Two criminals were crucified beside him. One came to faith. One is honest about his own brokenness, his own guilt. He is the one who asks that Jesus remember him in his kingdom. But the other rejects Jesus to the end.

So often we are reminded of all the changes of our lives, that nothing stays the same. But some things seem to never change. Here’s one: Some people cast Jesus aside. Today is just another day. Some people cast their hopes on Jesus. Today is the first day of their eternal lives.

This tension is what it feels like to stand with the crowds and the criminals at the foot of the cross.

Let us pray: Suffering, dying, loving, serving, creating, redeeming, sustaining God, take us today to the foot of the cross. Take us to a place where we recognize our own brokenness reflected in the broken body of a rejected Savior. Remember us, when you come into your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, the name above every name, Amen.

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