The Romans had criminals carry their own crosses after being severely beaten by being flogged. They were to carry the cross from the flogging site to a place outside the city. This would have been a very good deterrent to crime since everyone could see what happened to criminals. Simon (not the disciple) was coming into town and got recruited by the guards when Jesus could no longer carry the cross. In Jesus' most needed hour not one of His disciples were there to help Him. Many will turn away from you when bad things happen, He never will. This is a picture of what it looks like if we are to try and carry our burdens without Him. We can't do it alone and are in need of help. Jesus will help us despite our best attempts at our struggles. The women in Jesus' life were following and weeping for Him. Jesus told them to weep for themselves because He knew that Rome would destroy everything. Jesus was in agony and still was able to speak to the women. He cares for hurting people and will help if you let Him. I love the verse about if men do these things when the tree is green then what will happen when it is dry. When there is abundance there is evil so how much worse will it be when the abundance is gone?
v. 32-43 "Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with Him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals-one on His right, the other on His left." Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." They divided up His clothes by casting lots. "The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at Him. They said, 'He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.' The soldiers also came up and mocked Him. They offered Him wine vinegar and said, 'If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.' There was a written notice above Him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him; 'Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!' But the other criminal rebuked him. 'Don't you fear God,' he said, 'since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.' Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.'"
The soldiers would cast lots (like rolling dice) to decide who would get the criminals clothes. They fulfilled the prophecy in Psalm 22:18 (they divided my garments among them, they cast lots). Jesus asked God to forgive the people since they really did not know what they were doing. Here He was in pain and He wanted the people to come to God even at His demise. They dared Jesus to save Himself, since He had saved so many other people. They did not get what had to happen, if He saved Himself then we would never have a way out of sin. With Jesus there were two other men dying that day. One went along with the crowds, leaders and soldiers and mocked Jesus. When you are in pain it is easy to lash out at others.
"Let us go to Calvary to learn how we may be forgiven; and then let us linger there to learn how we may forgive."
Spurgeon's Sermon Notes
We see the love of Jesus enduring
- to the closing act of human malice
- to the extreme limit of personal suffering
- love can use no better instrument than prayer
- love, when in a death-agony, still prays
- forgiveness is the first, chief, and basis blessing
- for His wanton murderers in the very act
- for their full & immediate forgiveness
- for no other reason except their ignorance
- He teaches us to forgive the utmost wrong
- He teaches us to pray for others to our last breath
"No one has a right to claim the Christian spirit who refuses to forgive a foe, and even cement his forgiveness by some act of self-denying love."
The Biblical Treasury
The one man rebuked the other man and said Jesus was innocent. This man despite his circumstance decided to turn to God at the end of his life and he got to be with Jesus in heaven that very day. This one man had more faith than the crowds, even the disciples at the time who thought this was the end. Even if you turn to God in your last days He will take you into His kingdom. Wouldn't it be so much better to have Him in your life for decades than just at the end? This man wanted Jesus to remember him in His kingdom. All others thought that the Kingdom was coming to an end. He could see through his pain to what mattered most. Here many failed by going along with the crowd, they insulted Him from every direction. When you were crucified they put a sign on the cross to show everyone what your crime was. They said Jesus' crime was being the king of the Jews. The sign was meant to be ironic, yet they had no idea how true this was. Even in the darkest of places, all hope is not lost.