The Promise at the Skull
Jesus was crucified on a hill called “The Skull.” That day there were two others crucified with him. One man at his right, the other at his left. They were criminals. So there was one innocent man and two guilty men hanging there in front of the crowds. Some following Jesus to mourn, others gathered to see the spectacle of Roman execution. The first words the criminals heard from Jesus were a prayer for the very people now putting them each to death. He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The two men had very different responses to him. In today’s Bible verse, we read the story:
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:39–43 ESV
One man mocked him. The other asked for grace from a king. And this good King promised grace to the man who asked for it. But how could he believe Jesus? It would be hard to believe a man hanging limp on a cross about such a major claim. So, what was this promise of grace founded in and proved by? How do we know Jesus’ words came true? That he made a real promise? An empty tomb. A resurrected man. And the defeating of death itself happened just three days later. God proved his goodness in sending Jesus to die for the very people that murdered him! For each of us who stand guilty as those criminals hanging on their crosses. But God also shows us his power in resurrecting Jesus. His power over death itself. His power to redeem the most evil act in human history, the torture and murder of Jesus, and use it for the greatest good this earth has ever seen… The redemption of mankind. We serve a God who is both good and powerful. And this is why we place our hope in him.