On this Christ the King Sunday, we are reminded of one thing we can do. What is that one thing we can do? Fear God. It is this one thing which helps us see how great the task Jesus has done for us.
If Jesus is the Messiah was the condition the leaders, the soldiers, and the one criminal had for their berating of Jesus. This reminds us of the testing Jesus faced after his 40 day fast in the wilderness. At the end of that testing, the devil left Jesus until an opportune time. This crucifixion of Jesus would seem to be that opportune time. Yet, even before the mocking started, Jesus gave forgiveness, even to those who mocked him!
A. The leaders scoffed at Jesus (23:33-35)
1. Jesus was crucified at the place called “The Skull”
2. Criminals were crucified on either side of Jesus
3. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
4. The soldiers, most likely, cast lots for Jesus’ clothing
5. The people stood by watching
6. The leaders scoffed
a. “He saved others”
b. “Let him save himself, if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!”
7. Fear God. This is not an attribute the leaders displayed. It seems they were so set on seeing him die, that they didn’t even here Jesus’ plea for forgiveness. Their view of the messiah was not one of the Messiah dying. Yet, we are not sure of how the soldiers even heard of a messiah. They surely did know about a king.
B. The soldiers mocked Jesus (23:36-38)
1. They offered Jesus sour wine – the drink given to the soldiers
2. “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!”
3. An inscription over Jesus: “This is the king of the Jews.”
4. Fear God. Even not knowing who Jesus is, the soldiers don’t seem to fear God. For even another human, a creation of God is due some respect. Even if the person is being crucified. The soldiers showed no decency toward Jesus. But there was even one other who showed no decency toward Jesus.
C. One of the criminals derided Jesus (23:39)
1. “Are you not the Messiah?”
2. “Save yourself and us!”
3. Fear God. With nothing to lose, this criminal blasphemed God! He went beyond ridicule. He went beyond mocking. He spoke against Jesus. He didn’t speak of any faith in God. So, the other criminal corrected him.
D. The other criminal rebuked him (23:40-41)
1. The first criminal rebuked him
2. “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence?”
3. “We have done what we are accused of doing”
4. “This man has done nothing wrong.”
5. Fear God. This other criminal does fear God. He knows he is going to die. He has done what leads to death. Yet, he recognizes God is doing something. He may have heard Jesus or one of the disciples speak about the coming of the kingdom of God. He may have heard about Jesus coming to Jerusalem to die. Regardless what he may or may not have heard, he asked one thing of Jesus.
E. This criminal had a request for Jesus (23:42-43)
1. “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.”
2. Jesus replied
a. Amen/Truly, I tell you
b. You will be with me in Paradise
3. Fear God. For when we turn to Jesus, when we fear God, we get to be in the kingdom of God. Jesus does save this criminal. He lets him know he will be in that waiting place for the resurrection. What would be better to hear from Jesus just before this criminal dies?
Do we fear God? Or do we mock, ridicule, and blaspheme Jesus with our lives? Jesus has asked forgiveness for us. We don’t know what we are doing. But God knows what he is doing.
Jesus is the Messiah, the chosen one of God. He is the king of the Jews. And right here on the cross, he saves this criminal. Through Jesus’ resurrection, we are also saved. Isn’t it about time for all of us to fear God? It is only when we turn to Jesus that we can be saved. Won’t you fear God today?