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Basic Bible: The Crucifixion of Jesus

Luke 23:33-49

The crucifixion of Jesus was the cutting off of the Messiah of which Daniel prophesied (Dan. 9:26). Psalm 22:14-18 is a picture of that which Jesus would suffer upon the cross. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be despised and rejected (Isa. 53:3). All four gospels confirm that Jesus is the Promised One who satisfied the sin debt for all who will believe. Each gospel tells the story of Jesus’ crucifixion through the eyes of individuals who were present and witnessed the fulfillment of the Father’s plan of salvation.

Luke’s account includes information which is not recorded in the other gospels because Luke was the recipient of information delivered by ministers of the word and eyewitnesses that may have been unknown to Matthew and Mark (see Lk. 1:2).

Luke states that Christ was crucified at Calvary (v. 33), while Matthew, Mark and John, identified the location as Golgotha. There is no difference. Golgotha is Aramaic for “place of the skull.” Calvary is Latin for the same words. The Latin word may have been chosen because Luke was a part of Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles.

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (v. 34). The Son reveals the Father. The Son came into the world, not to condemn, but to save (Jn. 3:17). Jesus went to the cross to satisfy the sin debt of all who would ever believe and accept the gift of life. The price of all sin, save the refusal to ever believe, was satisfied on Calvary. Jesus pleaded to the Father for forgiveness of them who did not know Him. He loved us before we knew Him.

There were very few present who believed Jesus to be the Christ, the chosen of God. The people stood beholding. They beheld the religious leaders deriding Jesus. The rulers challenged Jesus to save Himself. They did not know the scriptures or the God which they thought they were upholding. They did not know that the Messiah must die to save others (Isa. 53:12). The religious leaders were not alone in mocking Jesus. The Roman soldiers who physically nailed Jesus to the cross joined in, saying, “If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself” (v. 36). The soldiers who mocked had unknowingly fulfilled the scriptures by casting lots for His garments (Ps. 22:18), pierced His hands and His feet (Ps. 22:16), and offered Him vinegar to drink (Ps. 69:21). The unbelieving and unknowing soldiers declared the scriptures to be true through their actions. They posted the superscription “This Is The King Of The Jews” on the cross in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew (v. 38). They, unknowingly, declared the truth: Jesus, King of the Jews, died for all peoples. God is omniscient. God knows them who do not know Him.

Also challenging Jesus to save Himself was one of the two thieves who were crucified with Him. This malefactor said, “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us” (v. 39). With these words, the man condemned himself. The man would only believe that Jesus was Christ if Jesus were to do that which he desired. The man believed in God — a god of his own creation, a god who would do what he wanted done.

The second thief responded: “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?” (v. 40). Both malefactors were guilty, deserved to die on the cross, and knew it. The second man, however, knew things the first did not. The second knew that Jesus was not guilty of any offense and did not deserve to die.

“Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (v. 42). These words, the words of the second thief, testify of belief. This man addressed Jesus as Lord, the Lord who would, after death, enter into “thy” kingdom. The man believed that Jesus was God in the flesh! We do not know if the man ever saw or heard Jesus teach or preach. We do not know when he first believed. All we know for certain is that the man fully believed that Jesus was the Christ and he called upon Jesus to remember him when Jesus would enter into His kingdom.

The man’s words testify of that which had been revealed to him. In Matthew 16, Jesus, in response to Peter’s declaring Him (Jesus) to be the Christ, said that Peter was blessed because this fact had been revealed to him by God the Father. The second thief believed that which was revealed by God the Father. The second thief believed God. His belief was counted as righteousness because Jesus answered, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

One thief believed the religious leaders and died without hope. The second believed God and died knowing that he would be with Jesus for all eternity. God reveals Himself to all men but not all believe that which God has said.

Luke records the same three hours of darkness from the sixth hour to the ninth hour and the renting of the veil of the temple which Matthew and Mark reported. The darkness was no natural darkness. It was from God. The darkness turned to light and veil separating man from God was forever removed. Jesus had completed the mission for which He came to do. Jesus had fulfilled every jot and tittle of the law. He had given Himself as an offering, a perfect lamb without spot or blemish. Through Him, the seed of Abraham and promised son of David, all nations of the earth have been blessed.

Let us confess with our mouths that which the Father has spoken to our hearts.

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