Luke 23:33-43 (1)


Jesus, remember me
Reading: Luke 23:33-43
Additional reading: Luke 1:68-79, Matthew 20: 1-16
Blanks: forgive, know, today, Paradise

Jewish people count each day differently like this.
The Sabbath does not start at 12 am.
When the sun goes down, Friday is over and Saturday the Sabbath starts.
So on that night, the Sabbath began.

So we know when Jesus was at the cross and was buried on Friday just before sunset.
Anyway, today we are going to have a look at what happened when Jesus was on the cross.

About this time, many Jews came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
Many of them heard about Jesus.
Some of them wanted to meet Jesus.
But then they heard that Jesus was on his way to the place called the Skull with his cross.
That was Friday.

The Roman soldiers brought Jesus there to crucify him.
Two other criminals were there with Jesus to be crucified.

The Governor Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent.
No, Pilate could not understand Jesus.
His wife told him that Jesus was a holy man, because through her dream, she was told about about Jesus.

But Pilate ordered his soldiers to crucify Jesus.
“Pilate, what was the sin of Jesus?”
Well, Pilate ordered to write on a piece of wood why he crucified Jesus:
“This is the king of the Jews.”
Then the soldiers placed it above the head of Jesus.
He wrote this to justify himself.

So the soldiers thought that they were crucifying the king of the Jews.
They were laughing and playing games to find out who would have the outer garments of Jesus.
For the undergarment of Jesus, which was one piece garment, they cast lots to find out who could have this souvenir of the king of the Jews.

It is pitiful to look at these soldiers.
Their job was to kill people.
And their hearts became numb.
They didn’t feel for the crucified anymore.

Those priests and religious elders felt they accomplished what they wanted.
They wanted to rule and lead instead of Jesus.
They wanted power and authority.

They watched or heard that Jesus cured so many people.
Whenever Jesus had done something special, people followed Jesus and respected him.
Then instead of honoring Jesus as the Son of God, they wanted to show people who got the power in Jerusalem.
They decided to show their power by crucifying him.

Then these priests and religious leaders again said something like this concerning Jesus:
“He was good at saving others.
Now let him save himself because we know the Messiah was supposed to be victorious over his enemies.
If he was the Messiah, let him come down from the cross.”

Jesus already told people about them.
They pretended to serve God, but did what they wanted.
They chose to do evil instead of good, because of their father is Satan.
They were blind guides.
We could say that they were pastors, elders, deacons, religious persons because they took care of the temple, prayed, fasted, knew the Bible, and said that the Messiah was coming.
But since they had been walking on wrong paths for so long, their hearts became wicked.
They loved darkness more than light.
And they lived in darkness.
God knew this.
Satan knew this.
People knew this.
Now they were killing Jesus.

But Jesus came to shine God’s light and show God’s goodness.
So Jesus kept on praying:
“Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”

For their forgiveness also, Jesus was offering his body.
Jesus must forgive in order to obey God.
God’s purpose is to bring forgiveness into this world.
So he was forgiving people.
Jesus loves and died for them.

It is strange that God loves people even when they were rebellious against God.
God forgives when they were killing the Son of God.
People acted like as if they were God's enemies.
But God knew God’s enemies were not them, people.
God’s enemies were those selfish, prideful, spiritual forces.
God’s enemies were selfish, boastful characters.
God’s enemies were sins, sinful thoughts and sinful habits.

God wants to be victorious over his enemies: sins.
Jesus is victorious over his enemies: sins.

So Jesus was enduring his cross patiently as God wanted to forgive people and save them.

Through his suffering and the cross, Jesus is about to save people from their wicked thoughts, selfish behaviors and evil habits.
Jesus is rescuing people from the power of death.
Jesus frees people from fear, and worry.
Jesus frees them to live God’s holy and righteous life.
Jesus frees them to ride God’s waves of mercy and grace.

Jesus also wants his people to know that they have power to forgive others.
So Jesus said: Matthew 6:15
“If you do not forgive others their sins, God the Father would not forgive your sins.”
When they forgive, they can ask God to forgive them.
Then God forgives as they forgive.

So Jesus wanted his people to say this with him.
“Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”

When we forgive, bless and pray for them, we experience God.
If we don’t forgive, we don’t experience God truly.
It does not matter whether they pray a lot or donate a lot of money for the poor.
Those who want to experience God truly, must forgive.
So Jesus was asking his students to forgive and reconcile.
Christians must forgive.
So we ask God to help us forgive.
Through forgiveness, Jesus would introduce the true God.
Through forgiveness, people experience God truly.

And we bless those who sin against us.
If they were not blessable, our prayer comes back to us and bless us.
So we may need to bless those who are not blessable.
Anyway, Christians are those who pray more for the enemies than for their friends.
In this way, they make a better world.

God also forgives to create this new loving, forgiving and humble humanity through Jesus.
Only when people experience God’s great unconditional love, they feel overwhelmed and become humble and are changed to live like the humble, loving and forgiving God.

But the soldiers didn’t know this.
They only saw Jesus suffering.
So, they gave wine vinegar to ease his pain and said:
“If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

Also one of the criminals who hung there joined them and said:
“You are the Messiah?
Then save yourself and us!”
Even though he was there because of his sins, he felt bitterness.
He didn’t love God.
He didn’t love people.

But, the other criminal understood who Jesus is.
As he was hung there with Jesus, he understood what God’s doing.
He knew what was happening.
He understood what the Messiah was accomplishing.
No other people explained to him.
But when he saw Jesus suffering but quietly believing in God on the cross, he was converted and became a believer of Jesus.
It was God’s work.
God helped him to understand who Jesus is.

So, this criminal rebuked the other guy saying:
“You better fear God.
We are here because of our sins.
But Jesus is innocent.
You know that.
He has done nothing wrong!”

God informed him that God’s Chosen One, the Savior was next to him.
This grace of God overwhelmed him.
God was giving him the last chance in life.
God was encouraging him to come heaven through Jesus.
So he sensed that Jesus was creating the new and beautiful life.

So he was like:
“Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.
I know that you will bring God’s Kingdom.
I want to be in.”

This was remarkable.
This man believed in the resurrection of the death.
This man believed that God could raise him from the death.
He believed that he would rise with Jesus if Jesus helps him.
God helps him to understand that Jesus is the Messiah.
God helped him to realize this when Jesus was suffering on the cross.

Jesus said this man like this:
“Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Jesus was like:
“OK. Of course!
I am here to forgive everyone’s sins including yours.
I can give you forgiveness and eternal life.
So you who are in me will live forever.”

So he is now with God.
For 2000 years, this man lives with Jesus.
This man enjoys his eternal life right now, because he understands the truth.
So he lives in God’s peace forever.

I want to think that he understood Jesus because he heard that Jesus praying:
“Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”
Then he realized who Jesus is, even though Jesus was on the cross.
Then he thought that everybody needed forgiveness but not Jesus.
This man understood why Jesus was crucified.

Jesus said to his students:
“When I am lifted up, I will draw all people unto me.”

When Jesus is lifted up, even at this cross, Jesus was drawing all people unto him.
So this person at his cross, became a disciple of Jesus.
When God opened his eyes, he was Jesus as the good Messiah.

When Jesus is lifted up in our midst, one by one people realize that Jesus is the King of the Universe, the Son of God who created the heaven and the earth.
When Jesus is lifted up, he the Son of God will open the heaven, so that we may experience the most Holy God.

Jesus told this story:
One servant owes the king a billion dollars.
Then the king has forgiven his debts freely.
But then he went out and strangled his fellow servant for 10 dollars.
When the king hears about it, he sends him to jail.
Then Jesus says: (Matthew 18:35)
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you if you don’t forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

This story says we owes God like a billion dollars when Jesus was on the cross.
There is so much meaning and power when Jesus was on the cross.
This cross contains so much that we don’t understand.
Through the cross of Jesus, we are supposed to see God.
Through the suffering Messiah, we are supposed to see God.
Through his wounds, we are healed.
This cross also reminds us of our terrible sins, and that we could not live without having Jesus crucified for us.
So we cannot help but to walk humbly with God forgiving others.

When God opens our spiritual eyes, we see the crucified Jesus very differently.
When God opens our eyes, we see who Jesus is.
When Jesus is lifted up in our midst, we understand Jesus God.

Only God can help us understand Jesus the Messiah on the cross.
No sermon can do that.
No church can do that.
So we pray, because only God can help us understand Jesus.
Then we believe in Jesus.
Then we see God who was with Jesus on the cross.
Then we may even understand the suffering God, the suffering Jesus.
When God opens the heaven, we understand Jesus our Messiah!
We believe in God who sent Jesus the Son so that we may rise and live in Jesus.

One day, we are going to meet Jesus our God.
Though we experience Jesus in our daily life, we will also meet Jesus in our next life in a new way.
Though we live our eternal life right now, when we arrive there, we will be extremely jubilant.
When we arrive there, we will realize the life in heaven is far beyond the life on Earth.
It cannot be compared.
Here we learn to take care of our family, our house, our company or something in the power of God.
When we arrive in heaven, in the power of God, we will take care of nations.

In order to come there Jesus asks us to walk through the narrow gate and narrow road.
Jesus is asking us to follow him seeking only his glory.
When we obey Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, we will arrive where Jesus is in the name of Jesus.

And only those who love God arrive there.
Only those who forgive arrive there.

Do you love God?
Do you forgive in order to live with God forever?
Do you love God and love people?

Only God can help us to love God and love people.
That is why we pray to God and praise and worship only God.
When God helps us to love God and people in God’s way, we know that we will arrive there.
May all of us arrive there safely.

Let's pray:
Jesus, remember us.
We remember you.
Help us to understand you and your way of living.
May we may join you and live in your way.
May you change the world for your glory.

We want to love you.
Help us to love you.
We love you.
In Jesus name, we pray.

The second criminal feared God and repented for his sins and loved Jesus.