SER # 37V
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
24th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 24TH 2019
TEXTS: LUKE 23: 33 – 43
THEME: JESUS OFFERS REDEMPTION
Jesus is sentenced to be crucified and he is taken up to the final destination after falsely accusing him. The religious leaders and the Romans had joined forces to make sure that Jesus is silenced even when would men using unjust methods. They crucified him according to the Romans rules. They were so methodical when it comes to crucifixion. The aim was to allow for slow death with maximum pain. In doing so they would avoid veins when nailing someone so that they don’t lose blood to quickly and die. On this particular occasion Jesus was crucified in the company of two thieves. We don’t much details of the crime they committed but we assume it was bad enough for them to end on the cross on this particular day. In this occasion Jesus is crucified with two thieves one on the left and another on the right. They must have not been Roman and their crime must have been really bad to warrant a punishment by crucifixion for this was reserved for very serious offenses.
This part of Jesus story, we read how the soldiers are mocking Jesus asking him to save himself if he was really God. What they soldier may have not known is that this is one thing that Jesus could not do. If he did this the whole of his mission would have failed. This this story is a story of redemption and in it we learn the following lessons:
- Jesus Offer Forgiveness: Given what we know what had happened to Jesus before he was crucified (all the torture) is hard for human to know how one could speak the words of forgiveness. According to many human understandings is that we offer forgiveness when people have shown remorse and willing to repent. But Jesus up on the cross taught us some importance component when it comes to forgiveness. A) We forgive even when people have not sought forgiveness. Jesus never waited for those who engineered his crucifixion to realize their mistake first before he offered forgiveness. B) He forgave even those who were not present to hear the words of forgiveness pronounced. As believers we are invited to copy what Jesus did. When we offer forgiveness, we are setting ourselves free from the sin of hate and revenge. Some may never know we forgave them but in forgiving them we are setting ourselves free. C) Forgive those who have hurt us intentionally. Jesus had all the reason not to forgive all those teachers of the law and pharisees who had falsely accused him yet he forgave them. It is a hard lesson to accept because everything in us tell us that we need to seek for a pay back. Let us remember when people hurt the words of Jesus through Paul to the Roman church. “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, ‘it is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord (Romans 12: 19). Rome government was known to be a persecutor of Christians.
- Never Too Late for Jesus Forgiveness: The story of the two thieves up on the cross represents the thinking of many people on that day and also some people today. A) On one had we have a thief who though up on the cross does not admit his mistake. He felt justified and shifted the blame. It is easy in our everyday life to shift blame of our own mistakes. This thief bought to the thinking of the soldiers where the mocked Jesus to save himself. He challenged Jesus of his powers as son of God. This one thief failed to look at himself and seek mercy from the only person who would willingly give. B) On the other side we see a thief who was remorseful for his sins and seeks forgiveness from the Lord. Jesus came to save us from the sins of the world. When this thief sought Jesus forgiveness he was offered right there. Jesus never asked him what he did but Jesus knew that a broken heart God will accept. It is what Jesus did to this man on the cross that informs us we are never late to turn our heart to Jesus. It does not matter what we have gone through or done; Jesus is willing to accept us when we turn ourselves to him. This thief died physically that day but according to Jesus he was going to join him in paradise that same day. ‘Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
- Jesus Didn’t Come to Save Himself: In the gospel of John we read why Jesus come to the world. He came to fulfill this purpose and this only. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). That simply meant Jesus never came to save himself. In fact, if he saved himself, he would have failed to meet the reason why his father sent him. This thinking was not new where the evil forces want to misdirect Jesus on his mission. It started off right after he was baptized and the devil took him to the wilderness for 40 days where he tempted him (Matthew 4:1-11). Here the devil was trying to get Jesus off the mission that his father had planned for him. On his final part of his journey there was the second part of the temptation where he was praying for God to remove the cup of suffering but eventually, he let God’s will to continue. “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22: 41-42). Jesus therefore did not come to save himself. It would have been easy for him to walk from that cross because he was God, but that would have ended the hope of human redemption. It was only the blood of the innocent (Jesus) that would time away our sins once and for all. No more sacrifice would need to take away our sin. Jesus did it on the cross by him willing to die on our behalf. No need for any other human or animal sacrifice is required to take away the sin of the world. By Christ innocent blood the doors were opened and the original sin was conquered. By rising from death Jesus also declared victory, therefore death no longer has the last word. For to die is to live for ever in the kingdom of God.