1998-06-25 - Remember Me
The Cross Series, Part 45
Luke 23:40-43 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 "And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." 42 And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" 43 And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."
On top of the mock trials and the beating by the guards, the scourging, added to the crowd ripping the beard from His face, Jesus has been subjected to the jeers and taunts of passers by, the members of the Sanhedrin and even the two thieves that are being executed with Him. There is no quarter, or moment of calm when Jesus might simply suffer with His wounds. The Lord has taken a moment, almost by force it would seem, and assigned his mother Mary to the care of John, the beloved disciple.
Unexpected by everyone but Jesus, one of the condemned men comes to his defense. Could he sense the hideous injustice being done to Jesus? Was the jealousy of the Pharisees so evident that a man suffering so could see it? These may have played a part. But the Master never responded in kind to His tormentors. His compassion was brutally evident when He asked the Father to forgive them all. Beaten and bloody, He had every right and reason to be furious with the treatment that had been dealt to Him by His own creation. He could still have called twelve legions of angels as He indicated in the Garden of Gethsemane, who would have willingly destroyed the world to brake His bonds. The difference was striking enough for this prisoner to feel the pain of his own guilt at having berated Jesus when he was condemned justly for his crime.
The statement of faith by this dying man was staggering. "...when You come into Your kingdom!". Not, if… when. There were few individuals who had not heard of the itinerant Rabbi Jesus and the trail of miraculous stories and witnesses that were left in His wake. His claims were not hidden. And here he was next to this prisoner. The Lord had prepared this moment in time for him - to break through his heart and his pride - to see that Jesus was Who He claimed to be. There was no chance to baptize this new believer. Two would leave Calvary that day headed for Heaven, while one would die with his pride intact and his soul separated from God for eternity.
It was the difference in Jesus that people sought. He really cared for the people, he taught with authority and he made Himself not to be above anyone: Samaritan woman, the harlot, the adulteress, the tax collector, grieving fathers, the sick, the lame nor the leper. Jesus did not play down to the level of the leadership, placing the law above the needs of others.
2 Cor 6:17-18 "Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord. "And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. 18 "And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me," says the Lord Almighty.
Matt 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
These verses may appear to be at odds with each other. Salt is only affective to prevent rotting if it is applied to that which it is to preserve. We are not to touch, to work with or accept, the unclean things in this world. The Holy Spirit will convict a believer of what is unclean in or near his or her life. But in order to preserve meat, salt must be rubbed into the meat. We must be willing to get directly involved with people, not condemning or tearing them down. Letting them know that Jesus stands ready to forgive them, and show them His compassion when the opportunity is given. In this, the difference the Lord has made in you will be tangible and made real to them.
Be memorable in your difference.
Lord Jesus - You have shown us that we can be in the world - showing the way to You, but not part of the world and its practices. Instead of being shy about the difference You have made in us, You can use it to draw people to us that want to know what makes us different. Help us to be memorable for You. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.