The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at [Jesus]. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, 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 Christ? 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, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Jesus is the King
We’ve recently navigated through this year’s tumultuous presidential race and election. Have you ever gotten the feeling that some of the people involved are self-serving? That they care more about themselves than those they hope to represent? They aim to win at all costs. They will promise anything. They tear down their opponent with truths and half-truths. During an election does it ever feel like some of the candidates, the media and even the general public are simply being self-serving?
Jesus is the King. However, Jesus steered clear of politics. He wasn’t interested in overthrowing the government, winning a popular vote or saying things just to get big headlines or people’s approval.
An interesting thing Jesus, the King, said: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This wasn’t a campaign speech to score popularity points. This was Jesus’ holy, sincere and loving mission. Jesus came to live, suffer, die and rise for sinners like you and me.
As the King, Jesus was suffering and dying while people watched, mocked and taunted him. They said: “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
They had missed the point. Jesus, the King of the Jews (and of all people), hadn’t come to escape pain, win votes and rule an earthly kingdom. Jesus came to live, suffer, die and rise for sinners like you and me.
Many of the people and the rulers just did not get it. But a criminal crucified right next to Jesus did. Before he died, the criminal turned to Jesus and made a request: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus, his King, responded: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Jesus, your King, came to serve and give up his life for you. He rose and now rules for you. Do you know this? Do you trust your King? Those who do will be with their King forever in paradise.
Jesus, my Savior and King, thank you for your love. You served, lived, died and rose for me. Through you I have forgiveness and the sure hope of eternal life with you. Keep me faithful to you and serving you, my King, until you take me home to paradise with you. Amen.