What Jesus Did! 'The Gamble' — Luke 23:32-34

Sunday, December 20, 2015

There were also two criminals led out with Jesus to be killed. Jesus and the two criminals were led to a place called "The Skull." There the soldiers nailed Jesus to his cross. They also nailed the criminals to their crosses. They put one criminal beside Jesus on the right, and they put the other criminal beside Jesus on the left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive these people {that are killing me}. They don't know what they are doing." The soldiers gambled with dice to decide who would get Jesus' clothes.
— Luke 23:32-34
Illustration of Luke 23:32-34 — "The Skull."   ——   "Father, forgive these people {that are killing me}. They don't know what they are doing."

Key Thought

The obvious gamble in this story occurs with the soldiers trying to win a game of chance and get the clothes of the crucified Jesus. In another sense, however, three other implicit "gambles" take place in this passage. First, the "gamble" made by the crowd, epitomized by crucifying Jesus between two criminals—that Jesus is not the Son of God, but a criminal worthy of crucifixion. Second, the "gamble" of Jesus, epitomized by Jesus' words of forgiveness toward those who hate him and kill him—that his sacrificial and forgiving death would somehow touch our hearts and win us to himself. Third, what we do with this story is our "gamble." Do we believe that Jesus is God's Son, our Savior, God's Messiah, and our Lord? If we do, then we will base the rest of our life on this conviction. But having heard this story, having been brought to the Cross of Jesus, we are forced to make a choice; we are forced to "gamble" our life on either following Jesus or rejecting him. There is no middle ground.

Today's Prayer

Father, I believe that your love and grace have been powerfully demonstrated by Jesus' death on the Cross. I gladly entrust my life to this love and grace, believing that Jesus is your Son, the Messiah of Israel's hopes, my Savior, and the Lord of all. I do not consider the investment of my life in this story to be a gamble, but the basis of my confident hope for a bright future with you. In Jesus' name I offer my thanks and praise for this indescribable gift. Amen.

Today's Verses in Context

The soldiers led Jesus away {to be killed}. At that same time, there was a man coming into the city from the fields. His name was Simon. Simon was from the city of Cyrene. The soldiers forced Simon to carry Jesus' cross and walk behind Jesus. Many, many people followed Jesus. Some of the women were sad and crying. They felt sorry for Jesus. But Jesus turned and said to the women, "Women of Jerusalem, don't cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children too! The time is coming when people will say, 'Happy are the women that cannot have babies! Happy are the women that have no children to care for.' Then the people will say to the mountain, 'Fall on us!' The people will say to the hills, 'Cover us!' If people act like this now when life is good, what will happen when bad times come? " There were also two criminals led out with Jesus to be killed. Jesus and the two criminals were led to a place called "The Skull." There the soldiers nailed Jesus to his cross. They also nailed the criminals to their crosses. They put one criminal beside Jesus on the right, and they put the other criminal beside Jesus on the left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive these people {that are killing me}. They don't know what they are doing. " The soldiers gambled with dice to decide who would get Jesus' clothes. The people stood there watching {Jesus}. The Jewish leaders laughed at Jesus. They said, "If he is God's Chosen One, the Christ, then let him save himself. He saved other people, didn't he?" Even the soldiers laughed at Jesus and teased him. They came to Jesus and offered him some wine. The soldiers said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!" (At the top of the cross these words were written: "THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.") One of the criminals began to shout very bad things at Jesus: "Aren't you the Christ ? Then save yourself! And save us too!" But the other criminal stopped him. He said, "You should fear God! All of us will die soon! You and I are guilty; we should bekilled because we did wrong. But this man (Jesus) has done nothing wrong!" Then this criminal said to Jesus, "Jesus, remember me when you begin ruling as king!" Then Jesus said to him, "Listen! What I say is true: Today you will be with me in Paradise !"

Luke 23:26-43

Related Scripture Readings

Then Joshua said to the people, "Now you have heard the Lord's words. So you must respect the Lord and truly serve him. Throw away the false gods that your ancestors worshiped. That was something that happened a long time ago on the other side of the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Now you must serve only the Lord. "But maybe you don't want to serve the Lord. You must choose for yourselves today. Today you must decide who you will serve. Will you serve the gods that your ancestors worshiped when they lived on the other side of the Euphrates River? Or will you serve the gods of the Amorite people that lived in this land? You must choose for yourselves. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord!" Then the people answered, "We will never stop following the Lord. We will never serve other gods! We know that it was the Lord God who brought our people out of Egypt. We were slaves in that land. But the Lord did great things for us there. He brought us out of that land and protected us while we traveled through other lands. The Lord helped us to defeat the people living in these lands. The Lord helped us to defeat the Amorite people who lived in this land where we are now. So we will continue to serve the Lord. Why? Because he is our God." Then Joshua said, "{That is not true.} You will not be able to continue serving the Lord. The Lord God is holy. And God hates his people worshiping other gods. God will not forgive you if you turn against him like that. But you will leave the Lord and serve other gods. And the Lord will cause terrible things to happen to you. The Lord will destroy you. The Lord God has been good to you, but if you turn against him he will destroy you." But the people said to Joshua, "No! We will serve the Lord."

Joshua 24:14-21

"So, all the Jewish people should know this truly: God has made Jesus to be Lord and Christ. He is the man you nailed to the cross!" When the people heard this, they felt very, very sorry. They asked Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?" Peter said to them, "Change your hearts and lives and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Then God will forgive your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you. It is also for your children and for the people that are far away. It is for every person that the Lord our God calls to himself." Peter warned them with many other words; he begged them, "Save yourselves from the evil of the people that live now!"

Acts 2:36-40

We want all of you and all the Jewish people to know that this man was made well by the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth! You nailed Jesus to a cross. God raised him from death. This man was crippled, but he is now well. He is able to stand here before you because of the power of Jesus! Jesus is 'the stone that you builders thought was not important. But this stone has become the cornerstone. ' Jesus is the only One who can save people. His name is the only power in the world that has been given to save people. We must be saved through Jesus!"

Acts 4:10-12

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About This Devotional

What Jesus Did is a one-year devotional guide through the gospels, using one short passage each day and following the Gospel in consecutive order. Each devotional consists of a passage, reflection and a prayer which opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Easy-to-Read Version copyright © 2001 by World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved.