The First Word: A word of forgiveness
When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with
the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them,
for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:33,34)
Beaten, battered, bloodied. If that were your condition, what words would
come from your mouth toward those who had just left you that way? I’m guessing your
words would not be appropriate for this church setting.
How remarkable when we hear the words of Jesus toward those who had left
him beaten, battered and bloodied! “Father, forgive them...” is what came from those
parched and perfect lips.
These words were for the member of the Sanhedrin who had falsely accused
Jesus and unjustly found him guilty. These words were for the Roman soldier who had
abusively mistreated him and savagely punished him, even though he had committed no
crime. These words were for the seemingly “innocent bystander” who gawked and
gasped at Jesus’ predicament and did nothing to help.
These words are for you and me: your gossip and my greed, your perversity and
my prejudice, your selfishness and my slothfulness. These words are the reason Jesus
was on that cross— beaten, battered and bloodied. He was there to forgive, to rescue
us from the punishment of hell due us because of our sins, to be our Savior.
Listen to those words today! Let them remain in your heart and resound in your
voice! Live them all the rest of your days!
The Second Word: A word of promise
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ?
Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said,
“since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting
what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus,
remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the
truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)
Beaten, battered, bloodied. If that were your condition, wouldn’t you try to
conserve your energy? The more words you speak, the more exhausted you would
That is not how Jesus would have it as he responded to the believing criminal
being crucified next to him. He didn’t meet his request with silence. He didn’t answer
with a simple, “sure” or “we’ll see”.
JESUS’ SEVEN SAYINGS FROM THE CROSS
Jesus wanted this word to be one of promise and one that would not be
misunderstood. “I tell you the truth”! This is something you can count on! This is for
“Today” is Jesus’ next word. Not “sometime.” Not “eventually.” Not “after
you’ve finished paying for your sins.”
Jesus promises him that same day as his body dies, his soul “will be with me in
paradise.” A promise of certainty! Not “might be” or “could be”, but “will be”! A
promise of companionship! “With Jesus”, with the one who lived for him and now was
dying with, and for, him! A promise of perfection! “In paradise”, in heavenly glory and
This word of promise from Jesus continues in our life as well. Even though we
are as deserving to die the kind of death this crucified criminal did and even though we
are deserving of hell itself, still Jesus says to you and me, “I tell you the truth, today you
will be with me in paradise.” Keep that word of promise always with you as this world
works its wickedness in your life and be certain that you have a place in paradise waiting
for you alongside a crucified criminal and your crucified Christ!
The Third Word: A word of love
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of
Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom
he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to
the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his
home. (John 19:25-27)
Beaten, battered, bloodied. If that were your condition, would you be
concerned about your mom or your best friend? You would probably want to first know
what they were going to do to help you.
Jesus, however, in his final hours, was concerned about his mother Mary and his
friend John, both of whom would be lost and distraught without him around. But this
should not surprise us because he had always been concerned about both of them and
would continue to be until they rested safely alongside of him in heaven.
Jesus’ word of love for his mother and his friend teaches us of his love for us.
We are his family, being brought into the family of faith by baptism. Like he did for
Mary and for John in his love for them, so he continues to give us people in our lives
who love us, take care of us and encourage us. Focus on this word of love when you