During Lent, we are using short videos to share a daily idea (linked to the gospel of Luke) on how to grow spiritually. Watch today’s video. Click here or on the image below:
Note: We are reading the entire gospel of Luke in the GPS. Some day’s readings are longer than usual. We hope you’ll have an extra cup of coffee, or use your lunch break, and read Luke’s entire story of Jesus.
32 They also led two other criminals to be executed with Jesus. 33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.
35 The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Christ sent from God, the chosen one.”
36 The soldiers also mocked him. They came up to him, offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you really are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 Above his head was a notice of the formal charge against him. It read “This is the king of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
40 Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? 41 We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”
44 It was now about noon, and darkness covered the whole earth until about three o’clock, 45 while the sun stopped shining. Then the curtain in the sanctuary tore down the middle. 46 Crying out in a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my life” [Psalm 31:5]. After he said this, he breathed for the last time.
47 When the centurion saw what happened, he praised God, saying, “It’s really true: this man was righteous.” 48 All the crowds who had come together to see this event returned to their homes beating their chests after seeing what had happened. 49 And everyone who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance observing these things.
50 Now there was a man named Joseph who was a member of the council. He was a good and righteous man. 51 He hadn’t agreed with the plan and actions of the council. He was from the Jewish city of Arimathea and eagerly anticipated God’s kingdom. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Taking it down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid it in a tomb carved out of the rock, in which no one had ever been buried. 54 It was the Preparation Day for the Sabbath, and the Sabbath was quickly approaching. 55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph. They saw the tomb and how Jesus’ body was laid in it, 56 then they went away and prepared fragrant spices and perfumed oils. They rested on the Sabbath, in keeping with the commandment.
Events came to their awful ending. Even as God in Jesus absorbed the worst that evil and hate could do (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14-19), he stayed focused on forgiving others (verses 34, 42). The Roman centurion who oversaw the crucifixion “praised God, saying, ‘It’s really true: this man was righteous.’” That testimony likely meant a lot to a “most honorable” Gentile like Theophilus (cf. Luke 1:1-4). Joseph of Arimathea, a council member who’d stayed silent at Jesus' mock trial, at least gave the body a decent burial. And Saturday came. “So far as we know, there has only been one day in the last two thousand years when literally not one person in the world believed Jesus was alive.” *
Dear Jesus, you walked into the most awful prison: the prison of death. But you went there to break those dark doors wide open. Thank you for bringing light into darkness, life out of death. Amen.
* Ortberg, John. Chapter “Saturday” in Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus. Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
** N. T. Wright, Luke for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, p. 285.
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As I reflect on the death of Jesus, I’m thinking about his brand. Jesus gained a massive following because his brand of love captivated people.
What are some of your favorite brands? My favorite brand is the running gear brand Brooks. I love to run, and my first choice for running gear is always Brooks. They see themselves as investors in the common good. I love that! Every time I lace up my shoes for a training run I repeat that mantra in my head: “I am an investor in the common good.”
In today’s Scripture a slew of people who trusted Jesus and his brand are around the cross: the centurion, the women from Galilee, Joseph from Arimathea (and let’s not forget the repentant criminal on the cross next to Jesus). Are you reading what I’m reading here? These people are all referred to by their location or by what they’ve done. It’s part of their brands. We all have brands. And now they have a massive choice to make. Jesus has died. He can no longer advocate for his brand. He did an amazing job establishing his brand, but who will keep it going? Starting right now, the love of God needs to be scooped up, internalized, digested, and lived out. There’s no time to wait! The brand needs people to manage it. It needs ambassadors and creators who will express it in fresh forms. It needs…but we’re sad.
We just lost the CEO of the greatest love brand ever shared. We are stricken with grief. What will the centurion, the women from Galilee, and Joseph from Arimathea do next? That’s the question we are all being asked. We should do what is natural. We should mourn, because understanding the good news only comes from knowing the bad news. War is destroying families. People are starving. Trust is being broken. Jesus dies. Sometimes I have bad training runs even though I repeated my mantra, “I am an investor in the common good.” Sometimes no matter how hard I try I can’t accomplish my goals. Sometimes I can’t faithfully live my brand. Some days I can’t even be kind to people!
But that’s what makes Jesus’ brand so amazing and everlasting. Even while we are yet sinners Jesus dies for us. Even when we fail. Even when we are terrible ambassadors of the brand, Jesus’ love for us remains steadfast. We are Easter people…people of the Resurrection…investors in the common good driven by the love of Jesus. So, may the death of Jesus today remind us that we are being given a great gift – a brand of love that shines light on our darkest day.
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