Friday 18 November 2022

 On Sunday the Church celebrates the day in honour of ‘Christ the King.

The story is taken from Luke 23 in verses 33 to 43.  

Jesus has been arrested without having committed any offence, but the Jewish leaders were determined he was too much a disturbance to them, so a false accusation was made , followed by a fake trial, and Jesus  was sentenced to be crucified.

 When a criminal was condemned to be crucified, he was taken from the court room to an outside place to face four soldiers.  He then had a large Cross placed on his shoulder and was marched to the place of Crucifixion by the longest route through the streets of the city, and had a soldier walking in front of him carrying a board with his crime stated, to give fear to others who might be contemplating doing the same. We see in this passage the Lord’s words of ‘gracious intercession.

Jesus began by carrying his cross, but under the strain gave up as he could not carry it any further. Palestine was a Roman occupied country and any person could be selected out to do what he was told. When being selected he would be touched on the shoulder with a Roman sword.  When Jesus fell the Roman centurion  looked for someone to carry it.

The city that day was filled with people who attended for the important feast and they had come from a vast area outside of Jerusalem. One of those people was a man named Simon from the far off city Cyrene (now named Tripoli), who had arrived to celebrate a lifetime’s ambition of attending a Passover event.  He was filled with bitterness to the Romans for making him do that, and the bitterness was extended to include the prisoner Jesus. The bitterness was forgotten when he became a Christian and was recognized in the Roman Church.

Behind Jesus there am a band of women who were weeping for him. Jesus told the women not to weep for him but to weep for themselves.  This could have caused much distress for them, for the biggest tragedy in a woman’s life was to be childless, for in Jewish life it was considered to be a disgrace not to have children, and was a cause for divorce.  Jesus was able to know that some time later Jerusalem would be destroyed because of failing to recognise God They came to he place of the skull, named otherwise as Golgotha.

When a criminal reached the place of execution, the cross was laid down flat on the ground. A collection of women would go the place to offer the victim some drugged wine to relieve the pain and thirst.  Jesus refused to take any, determined to face the worst.  The victim’s arms were stretched out across the wood, and nails were driven through them, and his feet nailed to the cross.  The cross would then be lifted up and set in a socket.

Crucifixion was the most horrific practice ever created by mankind.  It took place in several countries and was regularly carried out to criminals and offenders of the state.  The victims were left in the hot sun without any protection or drink, and left to suffer.  The death could be long in happening, and some took a week before actual death.  It is hard to conceive that such vicious action could be devised by anyone.

Christians who are true believers, will always remember that this terrible suffering was fully accepted by Jesus, in order that all ‘true’ believers. who are prepared to accept that his death was made in order that we can be forgiven in his name, and we may be cleansed of sin, and so made righteous in God’s sight to be accepted into heaven, when we claim Jesus to be our Lord and Saviour.  Only, those who so remember and follow the life and teaching of Jesus will be received by God.

It was the custom to place an inscription when a person died, and some wanted to put, ‘ he  saved others let him save himself.’.  But the inscription read, ‘King of the Jews’.   This will be  a service in many Churches on Sunday, when we celebrate, Christ the King’.

Jesus said many wonderful things, but there was great significance when he said ‘ Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’  He was seeking forgiveness for the men who committed such a vicious act, and set an example for Christians to forgive even lesser actions.  

Placing Jesus between to criminals was a last insult done to humiliate him. One of the criminals mocked Jesus for not saving himself and them.  The other criminal rebuked his friend and said, he did nothing wrong but we deserved it for what we did, and he asked Jesus to remember him when he was in his Kingdom.  Jesus answered him, telling him, he would be with Jesus in Paradise. This was another name to indicate heaven.

The word Paradise was used to mean a walled garden. When a Persian king wanted to grant one of his kingdom a special honour, he was chosen to walk in the garden with the king.  It was more than immortality that Jesus promised the penitent thief.  He was offering the honoured courts of heaven.

We can gather from this story that it is never too late to turn to Christ.  But it isn’t wise to rely on this.  Life is very unpredictable, for a person can be full of life one moment and be the victim of an accident,  or just die for some unforeseen reason.  The Bible states, now is the favourable time, NOW is the time for salvation. (2 Corinthians 6 v2)    there are times when we can say we are too old to do something, but we can never say that about turning to Christ.  So long as we are living, the invitation is there. For us it is really true, where there is life here is hope.                                                                                                                                                            

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