Lenten Reader | Day 38


Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, 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.” And 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 God’s Messiah, 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 Messiah? 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, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

- Luke 23:32-43
The thing we desperately seek from God to do for us is one of the most difficult things for us to do for others. This should serve as a reminder of the grace involved when Christ died on the cross for our sins. He sacrificed his life leaving no doubt as to why he was doing it – God’s forgiveness.

We are tempted to withhold forgiveness for others that have committed a wrong against us. Yet, that is exactly what God has done for us. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Paul says in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Paul knew that even our best efforts to live in harmony won’t always move some people who simply can’t let go of whatever happened! But we are commanded to forgive and to show Christ’s love.

Luke’s account of the cross and what Jesus did there details not only Christ’s sacrifice for us, but also the example that we are compelled to follow in forgiving others. We need the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, provided to each who accepts Christ as their Savior, to help us love our enemies.

We live in a dark, hateful, vengeful world that we pray will be better than it is.
The way to turning our world toward Jesus Christ starts with us examining our own hearts. Is there someone you still need to forgive?

-Mike Smith