The Seven Words from the Savior on the Cross: Hope 2
The Statement of Hope. Luke 23:32-43.
The beginning statement by Jesus Christ while He hung on the cross in penal substitution on behalf of sinners was a statement of forgiveness. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Luke 23:34. The second statement immediately following the first is also taken from Gospel according to St. Luke. "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43 ESV).
Within this scene of agony and mockery, we witness everlasting hope given to a lost sinner because of the graciousness of Almighty God. What is true in this biblical scene continues to be true in the scenes and settings in the lives of sinners today.
As we examine this statement by Jesus, we must note the fact that Jesus would be crucified with criminals was prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures.
Isaiah 53:12 – Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12, ESV).
This scene of substitutionary atonement, as recorded in the Gospel according to St. Luke, displays the amazing and wonderful grace of God embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. This unmerited favor by God, through Christ, is first of all displayed before the mocking crow. vs. 34-39.
Luke tells us that the soldiers cast lots to divide his garments for themselves (Vs. 34). This was fulfill the Old Testament prophecy found in Psalm 22:16-18: “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. (Psalm 22:16-18, ESV)
Luke also records that the people stood by, watching, this grizzly scene of execution (Vs. 35a). However, the rulers did more than just watch. The rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One” (Vs. 35b). The word “scoffed” literally means to hold up one’s nose.
The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews” (Vs. 36-37). The soldiers made sport of Him. They made fun of Him.
It was at this very moment that one of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us” (Vs.39). The parallel passage in Matthew 27:44 notes that both criminals initially mocked and reviled Jesus in the same way. To rail means to inflict injurious speech.
However, the other thief repented of his sin and acknowledged the sinlessness of Christ as he did so. "But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation (Vs. 40)? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong” (Vs. 41).
Finally, the efficiency of faith alone is acknowledged when the thief says
"remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus assures the thief that faith in Christ was all which was necessary to bring redemption. "And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Vs. 42-43).
What was true then is also true today. The confident expectation the believer possesses is faith in Christ to save to the uttermost.