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 NLT
Illustration of Luke 23:32-34 NLT — "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.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Joshua 24:14-21
  • Acts 2:36-40
  • 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.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.