Two robbers were nailed to crosses beside Jesus. One robber was put beside Jesus on the right and the other was put on the left. People walked by and said bad things to Jesus. People shook their heads and said, "You said you could destroy the temple and build it again in three days. So save yourself! Come down from that cross, if you are really the Son of God!"
— Matthew 27:38-40
It is truly hard for us to imagine the shame and indignity that crucifixion was for Jesus. The very word "crucify" was considered too crude for people with any dignity to use in conversation. It was a punishment reserved for only the worst of criminals or the scum-of-the-earth lower class criminals. Roman citizens could not be crucified. It was a curse to be crucified, or "hung on a tree," in the Jewish idiom. The Romans used it to cast fear in the hearts of the Jewish people so they would not become too independent minded. It was to humiliate them with a brutal statement made in public about what would happen to anyone who dared to challenge Roman authority.
At Jesus' crucifixion, there were two criminals on crosses. But to bring salvation, the lone innocent on a cross had to withhold his power as Son of God. If he chose to save himself, we would have lost our chance to be saved. He became our sin offering, our atoning sacrifice, the bearer of our sins.
He bore indignity, humiliation, rejection, ridicule, mockery, cruelty, and sin so we could stand before God clean, pure, holy, and without blemish. He withheld salvation for himself so he could offer it to you and me!
Almighty and compassionate Father, I know that not only did Jesus die for me, but he died for those who don't even know it yet. Please stir my passion to share that saving message with others who do not yet know the saving grace you have given me in sending Jesus and having him die for my sins. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Today's Verses in Context
Then Pilate's soldiers brought Jesus into the governor's palace. All the soldiers gathered around Jesus. The soldiers took off Jesus' clothes and put a red robe on him. Then the soldiers used thorny branches to make a crown. They put this crown of thorns on Jesus' head, and they put a stick in his right hand. Then the soldiers bowed before Jesus and teased him. They said, "Hello, king of the Jews!" The soldiers spit on Jesus. Then they took his stick and hit him on the head many times. After they finished teasing Jesus, the soldiers took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led Jesus away to be killed on a cross. The soldiers were going out of the city with Jesus. The soldiers forced another man there to carry the cross for Jesus. This man's name was Simon from Cyrene. They came to the place called Golgotha. (Golgotha means "The Place of the Skull.") At Golgotha, the soldiers gave Jesus wine to drink. This wine was mixed with gall. Jesus tasted the wine but refused to drink it. The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross. Then the soldiers gambled with dice to decide who would get Jesus' clothes. The soldiers sat there and continued watching Jesus. The soldiers put a sign above Jesus' head with the charge against him written on it. The sign said: "THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS." Two robbers were nailed to crosses beside Jesus. One robber was put beside Jesus on the right and the other was put on the left. People walked by and said bad things to Jesus. People shook their heads and said, "You said you could destroy the temple and build it again in three days. So save yourself! Come down from that cross, if you are really the Son of God!" The leading priests, the teachers of the law, and the older Jewish leaders were also there. These men teased Jesus the same as the other people. They said, "He saved other people. But he can't save himself! People say he is the king of Israel (the Jews). If he is the king, then he should come down now from thecross. Then we will believe in him. He trusted God. So let God save him now, if God really wants him. He himself said, 'I am the Son of God.'" And in the same way, the robbers that were being killed on crosses beside Jesus also said bad things to him.
Related Scripture Readings
Christ himself died for you. And that one death paid for your sins. He was not guilty, but he died for people who are guilty. He did this to bring you all to God. His body was killed, but he was made alive in the spirit.
1 Peter 3:18
My dear children, I write this letter to you so that you will not sin. But if any person sins, we have Jesus Christ to help us. He is the righteous (good) One. Jesus defends us before God the Father. Jesus is the way our sins are taken away. And Jesus is the way that all people can have their sins taken away, too.
1 John 2:1-2
At one time you were separated from God. You were God's enemies in your minds, because the evil things you did were against God. But now Christ has made you God's friends again. Christ did this by his death while he was in his body. Christ did this so that he could bring you before God. He brings you before God as people who are holy, with no wrong in you, and with nothing that God can judge you guilty of. Christ will do this if you continue to believe in the Good News you heard. You must continue strong and sure in your faith. You must not be moved away from the hope that Good News gave you. That same Good News has been told to all people in the world. I, Paul, help in telling that Good News.