Highlights In Today's Reading:
Pilate sends Jesus to Herod and Herod sends Him back to Pilate (23:1-11). Like Pilate, everyone must make a personal decision about what to do with Jesus. Jesus speaks to the weeping women (23:27-31) and to God (23:34). Notice who took Jesus' body and what he did with it (23:50-53). Chapter 24 is victorious! They remembered His words (24:8). We see an opened grave (24:2), opened Scripture (24:27), opened eyes (24:31), opened understanding (24:45), and heaven opened (24:51)!
There was probably malice in the arrangement by which Jesus was hung between the two thieves. Yet there was a Divine purpose behind the wrath of man. Jesus had come to identify Himself with sinners and He had lived among them with open arms for all who desired to follow Him. Even in death, His arms were spread open to receive the one thief who prayed for mercy.
On one cross there was a hardened criminal who sank deeper into sin and defied and railed upon the Savior. There was another cross upon which was one who at first blasphemed Christ along with the other criminal (Matthew 27:44). Then, in the presence of the chief priests and scribes and an angry skeptical crowd, he could no longer resist Christ; He turned to the crucified Christ and exclaimed: Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom (Luke 23:42).
There is no reason to doubt that this thief was a great sinner and deserved to die. But he was suddenly saved. Like Matthew, the publican, Mary Magdalene, and this thief — Jesus' mercy is sufficient for all: The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin (I John 1:7).
Christians rejoice in the cross of Christ, for it was there that He paid the price for our redemption. And we rejoice also in the resurrection of Christ, for it assures us of our heavenly home with Him, that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7). We have the assurance that the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (I Corinthians 15:52). This is the great and glorious hope of every Christian, the comfort at the graveside of a loved one, the victory that removes the sting of death, and the anticipation that we too shall be like Jesus.
It is wonderful to know we have been forgiven of all our sins (I John 1:9) and have the assurance of soon being with Christ (John 14:1-3). But until that time, we can praise Him that we have been set free from the power of sin (Romans 6:10-11). We can live in that deliverance by faith. The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God (I Corinthians 1:18).
Thought for Today:
God's Word tells us that we can know for sure that we are saved (I John 3:19 — 5:13). Do you know for sure?
23:5 Jewry =b> the Judean region; 23:19 for . . . sedition =b> for having started a riot; 23:23 were instant =b> were insistent or persistent; 23:29 paps =b> breasts; 23:32 malefactors =b> criminals, ones who do evil; 24:29 far spent =b> almost over.
For Luke 23:30: See Hosea 10:8. Luke 23:34: See Psalm 22:18.
Pray for International Shortwave Broadcasts sponsored by Dr. John A. Hash and in memory of Dr. Cindy Perry (Missionary to Himalayan Regions) • Bible Pathway Media Producer: Rick Hash • Government Official: Rep. John Barrow (GA) • Country: Madagascar (15 million) an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Mozambique • Major languages: French and Malagasy • Increasingly anti-Christian • 43% witchcraft, ancestor worship, and some astrology; 21% Protestant; 21% Roman Catholic; 2% Muslim • Prayer Suggestion: Thank God for guiding you to sacrifice freely for what pleases Him (Psa. 54:6).
Memory Verse for the Week: Luke 14:33