top of page


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

become, right?

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 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

eternal goodness!

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

doubt if anyone really cares for you!

The Fourth Word: A word of anguish

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About

the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (which

means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Matthew 27:45,46)

Beaten, battered, bloodied. Even if we were, we would never, ever know what

Jesus endured on that cross! We call this his word of anguish, but there really is no

word to describe what Jesus is saying and suffering here.

Jesus was forsaken by God— by the one with whom he had existed from

eternity, by the one with whom he was perfectly united, by the one whom he earlier


called his Father— and would again— but now generically names “God”. How could this


The perfect God and sin, which is the destroyer of perfection, can not co-exist.

God had to figure out a way to root out sin in sinful mankind in order that we could live

in God’s perfect heaven with him. So God sent Jesus and “made him who had no sin to

be sin for us” (2 Co 5:21). Jesus was forsaken by God because he had all of our sins on

him on the cross and God had to disown him in order that we might be owned by God.

As horrible as we have been toward God and as hateful as we have been toward

others, God stills extends his grace to us and promises to never, ever forsake us. This is

only because Jesus was forsaken in our place and, because of that, the God-forsaken pit

of hell is not in our future! Be sure that God accepts you and will never leave you

because of Jesus!

The Fifth Word: A word of fulfillment