This week’s reflections are written by Rev. Brian Johnson, one of our Associate Pastors here at St. Matthew’s
Today’s reading is Luke 23: 26-43
We read today about the crucifixion of Jesus. Another heavy passage to process and reflect upon. However, very appropriate as we start the season of Lent. A serious time of preparation while we draw nearer to Easter.
As Jesus makes the painful march after his beating to the place of crucifixion, he comes in contact with a man named Simon of Cyrene. We do not know much about this individual but we remember him for carrying the cross beam since Jesus was too weak at this point to carry it. Then we run into the wailing women who Jesus responds to with a quote from Zechariah foretelling the destruction the Romans will bring to the people of Jerusalem. Next, the soldiers crucify Jesus, gamble for his clothes, and mock him. It is important to note that it was ultimately Rome that executed our Savior. Finally, we remember the two criminals that Jesus is crucified with. We see a contrast in the attitudes and faith of the two criminals. The Bible is good at giving us examples of contrast. Jesus faces another temptation, his last earthly temptation. One of the criminals tempts Christ with this saying in verse 39, …”So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself and us, too, while you’re at it!” Which reminds us that we will face temptation from the Devil just like Christ for most of our earthly lives.
What I believe the important message for us today is to see the grace that Jesus offers even on the cross. We would totally understand if Jesus decided to be bitter and angry while on the cross but that is not the path He takes. He asks God to “Forgive them (Roman soldiers), for they know not what they do” and He tells the faithful criminal “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Even in Christ’s darkest moments He still shows love and grace to those around him. So know that we follow a Savior that when in extreme pain and sorrow still offers us love and grace. If you ever feel that you have gotten so off track with your life that God would shut you out then read this passage. What you will find is our Savior advocating for you to the Father, ready to welcome you back.