Passion From The Cross
Good Morning church family. Yes it is! What is that one thing in your life that gives you passion? I’m talking about that deep passion that is only generated from your core. When we’re passionate about something, there is no stopping us. And, that’s because we have our sights set on it. We have a deep desire to see that one thing through. We remain positive through the process, no matter if we experience set back. Our passion gives us strength and focus, because we see the possibility of what could be.
Jesus Christ had this passion. Jesus was a man who had to deal with great setback. Opposition and intense rejection were packaged with many setbacks. Jesus did not allow these to inter fear with the passion He had for all of humanity. Jesus is the perfect example of “no quit.” There was no such thing as throwing in the towel. This is because, an seized opportunity was always just around the corner.
Our passage this morning comes from the 23rd chapter of Luke. We are going to look at just a small piece of Jesus’ Crucifixion. Our passage this morning, we will see how even on the cross - Jesus continues to have passion for humanity. I invite you to open your Bibles with me to Luke chapter 23, and we will be reading from verses 32 through 34.
32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
The two criminals stories are unknown to us. Their precise crime cannot be determined. But, their deaths mark them as a threat. We do know that they are to be put to death by crucifixion with Jesus. Verse 32 does a couple things for us. First, having Jesus Christ crucified with these two criminals fulfills prophecy in Scripture. In Luke chapter 22, this is where we can read about the plot to Kill Jesus. Verse 35 and following is where Jesus talks about Scripture must be fulfilled in Jesus. Verse 37 of this chapter goes onto say:
37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”
Jesus is seen here quoting from Isaiah 53:12. Luke’s point here is that Jesus does not go to His death alone. Luke is showing Jesus is slain as a lawbreaker with other criminals by His side.
Second is that verse 32 has a metaphorical aspect to it. The two men illustrate two opinions that every person on this rock we call earth will face one day. We have one who is repented and one who is not. If you’re taking notes this morning you can find this in verses 39 and following. So we have one guy to repents and one who does not. The guy who repents says, “ we are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But! He goes on to ask Jesus, “remember me when you come into your kingdom,” because
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
As it says in Romans 10:9. The living God who has breathed life into these earth suites is a loving God, who is ready to extend love and grace for our sins, no matter how bad we might think they are. The living God is also a just God. This means we could potentially receive harsh judgement and eternal separation from the light and love God.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
I was asked recently not to preach on this subject. Where I would be putting someone in an uncomfortable situation. My answer was, I’m not doing anything like that. It’s the Holy Spirit who is trying to get your attention. I mentioned that I was called by God and invited by the church body to preach on the whole revelation of God. As we are sharing the gospel, of course everyone likes to hear that God is love, not so much that God is a God of judgement. We are commissioned to share both sides of the coin. We want you to have all the information. It would be like driving down the highway with only three tires. Having all four tires makes better sense.
Talking about going down the road. Jesus comes to the end of the road “to the place that is called The Skull.” Luke gets right to the point of the Crucifixion without much detail. Jesus and the other two make their way to The Skull. Some translations my use the Aramaic, Golgotha. Some of us may use the English word “Calvery,” which comes from the Latin word Calvaria. These all describe the same place.
The though is this was a hill that protruded from the ground. Similar to the way the head protrudes from the body. Part of the human skull is known as the Calvaria. It’s what we could consider the crown from our frontal lobe to our occipital lobe. Ok - that’s enough biology for now. When we think of this part of our skull, it sit higher, it’s barren generally with nothing else around. But! It’s important to understand the name has some gruesome associations attached with it. The description is fitting because it brings forward the deadly reality of the Crucifixion.
This hill would have been seen by many. It was the nature of the Roman execution that, one it be held in a public place, and two a location that would ensure maximum traffic with a clear unobstructed view of what was going on.
As Jesus and the other two men who were, what you could say, on display for the whole world. Jesus was stripped of His freedom when He was arrested, He was stripped of His rights when He was unjustly condemned, He was stripped of His friends, He was stripped of His ministry, and He was stripped of His clothing all the way down to what may have been a loin cloth!! This is to say He was stripped down to His underpants. Still this was not enough to satisfy His enemies. His enemies what the ultimate price to be paid. They wanted to strip Him of his life. They wanted to make sure that they stripped Him of His honor, His dignity and any respect He might still have. Jesus hung on that cross, bleeding, beaten, spat on, mocked, with some of the bystanders hurling abuse at Him. On top of all that, Jesus offers a merciful intercession.
In verse 34:
34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
In contrast to the hate and rejection He could have been feeling by going though a Crucifixion, Jesus demonstrates love and forgiveness through a prayer. The word them could include the soldiers who crucified Him and or those responsible for His death. Paul says in:
8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
This helps understand that the full scope of wickedness was unknown. Judaism was aware of the problem of sinning unconsciously or in ignorance. We can find examples in Leviticus 4:2 and Numbers 15:25-26. Peter makes a similar claim when he was talking to the people in Acts 3:17. It’s best to understand Jesus’ prayer in it’s deepest and fullest sense, that on the cross Jesus prays for the forgiveness of those responsible for his death - the Sanhedrin, Antipas, Pilate, the Jewish leaders and other of ill will. In doing so, he prays for the forgiveness of the sons of all people. When He does this, Jesus fulfills the commission of Servant of the Lord at the end of Verse 12 in Isaiah 53:12, where the Bible says: “he bore the sin of many and makes intercession for the transgressors.”
This should prompt us to be thankful for Jesus’ intercession. As you read and study God word, it great how He speaks to us just at the right moment. This could be giving us hope or encouragement. This could also be where we grow and learn. Have you ever had that experience where you were going through God’s Word and discovered an area of sin in you life that was not previously discovered? I know I have. This is God providing sanctification.
As Jesus is interceding for his enemies, He is portraying the very standard he set for His disciples. Jesus gives the disciples four principles of loving enemies in Luke chapter 6 in verses 29 and following. Kingdom love is marked not only by how it acts toward others, but also by how it reacts to what others do. When dishonored with insults, they were not to retaliate, but to accept that mistreatment and continue to love their oppressors.
The soldiers there are seen casting lots to divide his garments. The garments of the crucified person became property of the soldiers who carried out the sentence. This means they were deciding who gets what. The last half of verse 34 is not just a causal statement or observation. It’s a fulfillment of prophecy! The Bible says in:
18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
Traveling the road of via dolorosa reaching His final destination at Calvary for ALL to see, and draining the cup of suffering. But! Jesus drains the cup all the way to the dregs. The dregs are the grounds at the bottom of your coffee or tea cup. When we see those, many of us stop drinking just shy of the dregs, and throw out that part. Instead, Jesus finishes the cup, to the last drop. Jesus does this because sin requires a payment, and the payment is too great for us to pay on our own.
Jesus does all of this because He loves you. Yes, you are that important. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” All those transgressions you are carrying around can be forgiven. They can be forgiven right here at the foot of the cross! All you have to do is come to Jesus, and you can receive the grace of God. Grace is free. There is nothing you have to do to earn it. Or perhaps you never really surrendered when you came to Christ asking for forgiveness. For some of us, we have that empty hole that we keep trying to fill. And, no matter how hard we try, that hole remains empty. I want you to know Jesus can fill that hole. Jesus can make you whole again. Are you ready to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior today? If your thinking yes, but starting to think I’m a private person - what will all these people think? Many of the people in this room had to make the walk to the cross with nothing except their heart in their hand. Are you willing to trust Jesus in faith with your heart? The Christians in this room will never laugh or think different of you. They will be ready to love and rejoice with you! Do you need prayer this morning? I would be happy to pray along with you?