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Grace Greater Than All Our Sin (Luke 23:26-43)

Luke 23:26–43 - 26 When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus. 27 And following Him was a large crowd of the people, and of women who were mourning and lamenting Him. 28 But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 “For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 “Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 “For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” 32 Two others also, who were criminals, were being led away to be put to death with Him. 33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. 34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. 35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” 38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” What does today’s passage say? In today's passage, Jesus, helped by Simon of Cyrene, carries His cross toward Calvary to be crucified (vv. 26-31). When they arrive at The Skull, Jesus is nailed to the cross between two criminals (v. 33). Jesus incredibly prays "Father forgive them" over His tormenters (v. 34). The religious rulers and soldiers mock Jesus demanding He prove He is Messiah by saving Himself if He is God's Chosen One (vv. 35-37). One criminal joins the abuse but the other rebukes him, admitting their punishment fits their deeds unlike innocent Jesus. This criminal asks the Lord to "remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (vv. 39-42). With stunning grace Jesus responds, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43), promising closeness with Him though enduring agonizing crucifixion. How can I apply Luke 23:26-43 to my life? The road to the cross was long and agonizing for Jesus. Though innocent and undeserving of cruel punishment, He willingly took each heavy step for us. Bloody and bruised under the burden of our sin, Christ alone gave His life to break its power forever. Now as followers of Jesus, we walk our own road of unfair treatment, injustice, and suffering. Along life’s path loom shadows of despair - turmoil, chaos, even death - threatening to crush our souls if we face them alone, without hope. But just as Jesus struggled on, He walks with us still through pain and hardship. We need only reach out to firmly grip His hand of grace to make it through the loneliest places intact. For He redeems even our darkest valleys with eternal purpose when we love others as He has loved us. Christ’s kindness compels us to keep sharing this comfort we’ve freely received. The cross and resurrection power changes everything - our past, present, and future - when we place our faith in Jesus. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. Without Jesus, Life is Desperately Tragic (vv. 26-31): As Jesus, and then Simon of Cyrene, dragged the heavy cross toward His death, the crowd followed filled with grief and hopelessness. Without Jesus' salvation, people face miserable despair under the weight of sin that leads only to destruction. Trusting in Christ alone gives meaning to life and saves us from complete devastation. When the agony of injustice, suffering, chaos, and death threatens to crush your spirit, hold on tightly to Jesus. He willingly took your punishment on the painful walk to Calvary where He would cry out the sweet words “It is finished!” Only Jesus can heal life’s deepest wounds and wipe away tears with joy that lasts forever. His broken body and poured out blood bring comfort. Look to the bloodied face of your King lifted up on the cross for you. Though the road seems dark and your pain great, see His resurrection light waiting ahead. Then, your hurting heart will burn with eternal Purpose - to share His sufficient grace. Others stumble blindly down the empty road headed towards destruction still heavy burdened; go back to guide them towards freedom through faith in the Savior who forgives sin (Isaiah 61:1-3, John 12:32, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

Food for thought: Have you tasted the despair and hopelessness of a life lived without surrender to Jesus? How does remembering Christ’s suffering for your salvation motivate you to share His freedom with others on their own desolate road?

  1. Christ Sets the Example for the Kind of Forgiveness We Should Extend to Those Who Wrong Us (vv. 33-38): Though Jesus had done “no wrong” but only good, people hurled insults and lies, saying He should prove He is God’s Chosen Messiah by saving Himself. The soldiers even gambled to claim His clothing, since He had so little left. Their vicious hatred met only grace and love flowing from Christ on the cross. Despite the hurtful mockery and insults intended to crush His Spirit, Jesus prayed “Father, forgive them.” No revenge. No payback for Himself. With divine and eternal vision, He saw into humankind’s sickness of sin blinding them and grieved over the broken relationship with the Father. His compassion longed to reconcile lost people back to God. Christ has set you free once for all from sin’s control - hostility towards you was nailed to the cross forever. So go out with that same heart of forgiveness toward those still causing your pain. Release them just as you have been released by Jesus. There is beauty in forgiving when the world says we should not have to! This generous grace and sincere love points straight to the Savior and brings hope to a hurting world (Proverbs 19:11, Matthew 6:14-15, Luke 6:27-36).

Food for thought: Is there any “wrongdoing” you need to release others from today so that root of bitterness does not grow to choke out compassion? How can remembering the mercy Jesus extended transform your attitude toward those provoking your pain?

  1. Faith in Jesus Will Save Even the Most Wretched of Sinners Immediately (vv. 39-43): In his final agonizing moments nailed to the cross, one criminal spoke to Jesus dying beside him. He admitted he deserved punishment for his crimes, but that Jesus was innocent and sinless. Turning to Christ, he begged “remember me when you enter Your Kingdom!" Jesus instantly welcomed him into heaven that very day, promising “You will join Me.” No religious rituals, no spiritual ladder climbing - just acknowledging his guilt and receiving immediate mercy through faith in Jesus alone. There is no depth of evil, no chilling choices too stained for Christ’s cleansing blood to reach when sincerely pleaded for. He freely gives righteousness to the foulest sinners when they admit no personal goodness to earn salvation. Truly Jesus identifies with human suffering, crushed for wickedness yet mighty to rescue all who call on Him. He forgets the past and authors our glorious future as we walk with Him. You need only ask! Why wait under sin's curse another minute? Allow Jesus to lift your burden now and find freedom for your soul (Isaiah 1:18, John 5:24, Ephesians 2:8-9).

Food for thought: Have you taken that step across the divide from spiritual death to eternal life by asking Jesus to remember you for paradise when He comes into His Kingdom? If not, what reasons might you offer to justify waiting when He promises immediate forgiveness and belonging? Christ's example of grace in unjust agony points us to the healing hope found only through His sacrifice. Where there is genuine and sincere repentance, Jesus promises immediate rescue - bridging the gap between our unrighteousness and paradise with God for all eternity. No one stands too distant for His endless love to gather into His kingdom family. When we walk the lonesome road of affliction or stand at the bedside of wasting illness, Jesus redeems suffering into a ministry opportunity. Through tears we can powerfully proclaim Christ to reconcile and restore relationships between offended and offender. The innocent Son forgave freely those murdering Him. How much more should we who are all guilty extend that grace to others ourselves? As adopted heirs of the King we become purveyors of this peace, distributors of this comfort, heralds of freedom. For without Jesus, there is only hopeless tragedy under sin’s brutal curse. But with Him life overflows with purpose even now and life everlasting beyond the cross. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would help me extend the same gracious forgiveness to others that Jesus showed from the cross. When I face injustice, may I submit gently without bitterness or revenge. Grow compassion in my heart towards those still causing me pain. I want to release others just as fully as Christ has released me from sin’s control through His sacrifice. Thank You for redeeming hardship in my life as opportunities to comfort others. Remind me that without You life has no purpose or lasting hope. I pray that Your Spirit would use me to help rescue lost souls headed towards destruction. Guide them into relationship with You through faith in Christ’s complete work on the cross on their behalf. I long to live out joyous freedom that testifies of Your power to save. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Luke 23:42 - And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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