March 28 – Luke 23:32-43
This week’s passage, Luke 23:32-43, describes Jesus’ ignominious death. The passage is laced with insulting irony—the rulers scoff at him, the soldiers mock him, and over the head of the King of Kings hangs a laughing sign, “This is the King of the Jews.” Twice Jesus’ identity is challenged, “Let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God!”(23:35) and “Are you not the Christ?”(23:39) Notice the striking similarity between these comments and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, where Satan also said, “If you are who you say you are…”(Matt. 4:3) So not only were these comments insulting, they were maybe even Jesus’ final temptation to try to avoid the torture of death on a cross; every wrong thing they urged him to do was most certainly within his power to do. Notice also, the crowds and even the first criminal all assumed Jesus’ death would be proof of his failure, unmasking him for the charlatan they assumed him to be. The unbelief is shockingly intense in this passage, but if we’re honest, our unbelief can be too.
And yet how did Jesus respond? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”(23:34) While Jesus was dying his mediatorial death he interceded for them, pleading for the Father not to hold it against them. You couldn’t get a clearer picture of the upside-down love of Jesus. While suffering under the ridicule of his enemies, his life seeping out of his body, he speaks, “Peace.” Rather than spurning corrupt criminals, he dies alongside them, seeing faith blossom in the heart of the second criminal and pronouncing a second word of forgiveness. Jesus promised him, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Imagine what their reunion was like.
Questions for Discussion
• Would someone read Luke 23:32-43 for us?
• What stood out to you in this passage?
• What are the different reactions to Jesus in this passage?
• What do you think is significant about Jesus dying alongside criminals?
• How do you personally connect with this passage?
• Thinking back to our Job series, how does this passage help us understand suffering?
• This Easter, how does this passage provide you with good news?