Not What We Deserve

Christ the King Sunday

Luke 23:33-43

“Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” (v. 39)

The leaders scoff at Jesus as he hangs on the cross. The Roman soldiers mock him, saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.” Even one of the criminals hanging next to Jesus derides him.

We nobly think we would not deride our dying King. But consider that Jesus is present in our neighbor in need. In the city where I live, we warehouse homeless adults, ignore children who are poor, and conspire to harm, rather than help, prisoners—even when we might be prisoners ourselves. People of faith recognize this all makes a mockery of Jesus, so we are organizing to reform our city government.

One crucified convict recognized the true king in his fellow prisoner. He rebuked the other man, saying, “We are getting what we deserve.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

When we recognize Jesus in our neighbor in need, the Spirit moves us to repent of our mockery and to pray for God’s saving help.

Ultimately, Jesus offers the dying criminal more than he—or any of us deserve: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Holy Spirit, open our eyes like the crucified criminal who recognized our king on the cross. Amen.

Prayer concern: people on death row and their chaplains

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