An Unexpected Meditation – Bible Journey Day 17
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” A sign was fastened to the cross above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”
But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:34-43 NLT)
I know, I know. I’m a terrible blogger. I plan to step off for a couple of days, and next thing you know, it has been a month since my last blog and it took an electronic crowbar to pry me off my tail and put my feet back on the trail. Thank you, you-know-who!
Well, here I am! And, ironically, I used today’s text as the anchor for last Sunday’s communion meditation. I love offering the communion meditation more than just about anything else. It requires a kind of focus and prayer that I might otherwise never practice — to try and help the gathered people see the multitude of witnesses and the joy of heaven surrounding us as we share in the Supper. I had a little help from my friend Josh Graves to get this one started; you may judge whether I served our Lord well. So, without further ado, lock arms with me again (I might need dragging from time to time) as we embark once more on this Bible Journey.
Right now, I’m not sure where some of you are at in your spiritual walk. I know some of you are on fire with faith and God is closer to you than the breath in your lungs. And I know some of you have been walking the path for a long time, and God is your steady companion, trusted like the foundation of your life. And some of you, some of us, aren’t quite sure why we even got up this morning. Things have calmed down enough in our Sunday gathering right now that you might be asking yourself, “What in the world am I doing here?” You’ve been walking in the wilderness, and there’s just mess and wreckage and grief all around you, and what you’re really wondering is if God can take your life and the mess you’ve made or your complacency or your hard heart or your grief, and redeem it and make something new and good and holy. Does He care, and is He capable?
This bread reminds us of the body of Jesus Christ, the one who healed the hopeless, forgave the foolish, and put broken lives back together one piece and one day at a time. As you share this bread, remember the one who said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and loaded down, and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The one who said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Is he capable? Oh yes, he’s capable. But does He care? Maybe he only cares about people who have it all together, who know their Bibles backwards and forwards, who haven’t missed church in recorded history. Maybe. But as you share this cup, this reminder of the blood of Jesus Christ, remember this: on the cross, whipped and nailed and crowned with thorns, watched by his mother, innocent of any crime, this Jesus said some things to his abusers. Think about it: what would you say to people who were killing you and making fun of you while it was happening?
Yeah, me too, but not this Jesus. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And when he saw his helpless mother, about to be hopeless and voiceless, a widow without a firstborn in a patriarchal society, he called on one of his friends to care for her. And when a nearby criminal heard how this Jesus spoke, gave Him glory, and asked for hope, Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Is he capable? Does he care? Oh yes… remember that as we pray.