*Theme Week – Jesus: Luke 23
Old Testament Reading: Joshua 1 & 2
Psalms Reading: Psalm 95
The next few days of readings will be centered around Jesus’s crucifixion. Luke’s account tells us of the interaction that Jesus had with the thieves on the crosses next to Christ, which is what I’m focusing my attention on today.
Jesus has been arrested and has appeared before Pilate, the highest Roman official in the area, and been found guilty of nothing more than inciting a spiritual revolution. Yet he was punished and tortured and hung up on a cross with criminals to die an agonizing death.
The criminals were guilty. They knew that they were being punished for wrongs they had committed. Still one mocked Jesus, telling him to save himself and them. The other, however, knows that he has sinned. He knows that he deserves punishment and that Jesus does not. And rather than asking Jesus to remove him from the cross and death, he has his focus on something far more important. He asked Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom.
How remarkable. Honestly, when I’m in trouble I’m not thinking of whether or not I deserve that trouble. I’m not focused on what is ultimately important. I should be acknowledging that I’ve done wrong and that I likely deserve whatever mess I’m in. I should acknowledge that whatever battle I’m in the midst of, I can continue to fight because God has already won the war. Instead, I’m just looking for God to rescue me from my current situation. I’m looking for an easy way out. I have lost sight of the end game, which is an everlasting kingdom that can be had by accepting the gift of grace offered to us when Jesus was punished and killed for our transgressions.
The thief had his priorities straight, and Jesus acknowledged it by promising him a place in his everlasting Kingdom. How beautiful.
Take some time with me today to prepare yourself by realigning your priorities. Ask yourself:
When I am struggling, is my focus on myself or on God’s plan?
Have I accepted the free (for me) gift of salvation, or am I still trying to earn my way into God’s kingdom?
Have I truly acknowledged and accepted that no matter what I have done or said to redeem myself, I cannot?
How can I better reflect my joy and gratitude for this gift of eternal life? How can I express it to others so that they can accept it as well?
My prayer for you and myself today is that we each accept with a humble heart the gift of salvation, acknowledging that it is only by grace that we are saved. I pray that we accept that grace with extreme joy, because it is truly something to celebrate. I pray that our priorities are not focused on anything in this world, but on God’s coming kingdom.