The Incomparable Christ
May 30, 2021
 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.  And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him.  But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’  Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’  For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.  And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.  And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.  And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”  The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine  and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”  There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”  But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? (ESV)
- We can quickly, all of us, lose sight of our glorious Savior. We can forget what He is like.
We quickly forget the worth of Christ and attribute worth tother things.
- This passage draws our attention to four aspects of Christ’s character and thereby exalts the worth of Christ.
I. Christ the Truth Teller
- Verses 28-29 serve as a merciful wake up call to these women. In His love for them, He is telling them the truth of their need to repent.
- They need not weep for Him. They need not be focused not on an outward show of pity for a dying man but with the inward cleansing of the heart by believing in the Messiah Himself. The sense is, ‘Don’t cry for Jesus; cry for those who will face God’s judgment if they don’t repent!’
- How will these ladies respond Jesus’ warning here? V.48 indicates that some just may have turned to faith in Him. Calamities have the effect of calling some faith and remind God’s people that He will indeed do what He says He will do.
II. Christ The Merciful Savior – “Father, forgive them”
- As He is being brutally murdered, Jesus is focused on others. They are mocking, He is loving. What a contrast!
- The leaders and people mock the Lord. How does Christ respond? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Verse 34).”
- Who responds like that??
- What mercy! What grace! Though we are wretched sinners all, He loves us and offers mercy to us.
God’s mercy is sgreat that you may sooner drain the sea of its water, or deprive the sun of its light, or make space too narrow than to diminish the great mercy of God. — CH Spurgeon
- Jesus loves sinners – all who have rejected Him.
- There is no person who is beyond the reach of Christ’s mercy.
- If He can have mercy on those who were killing Him, He has mercy for you!
- There is nothing you have done or could do that places you outside of the reach of the mercy of Christ.
III. Christ The Innocent Substitute – offers Himself as the sacrifice
- Words are one thing, but Jesus’ love goes beyond words alone. He demonstrates the fullness of His love by offering Himself as our substitute.
- Luke draws this point of His innocence out through the narrative.
- In the trials, Herod twice declares Jesus tbe innocent Pilate, three times declares that he found nguilt in Jesus. And even on the cross, the one criminal on his left, declared the innocence of Jesus.
- While the one thief joined the others in mocking Christ, the other saw himself for who he is and saw Jesus for who He is.
- He noted that he was guilty and deserving of judgment. He noted that Jesus was innocent, and dying an innocent death.
- This is the glory of Christ – that though He was innocent, though He had not sinned, He willingly took upon Himself the sins of His people. He who knew no sin became sin for us. He is Himself becoming the sacrifice for sinners. His death was the means by which God could reconcile sinners to Himself, as the Father poured out His righteous judgment for all God’s children on Jesus so that everyone whcalls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
- This is the very cornerstone of our faith! The innocent Christ took our guilt! Without the substitutionary death of Christ we could not and would not be saved.
“The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves tbe; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves tbe. Man claims prerogatives that belong to God alone; God accepts penalties that belong to man alone.” — John Stott
IV. Christ Our Victorious King
- Even from the cross, amidst the shame and agony and dishonor Jesus is still the Victor.
- Though His body is bloodied and beaten and about texpire, He is still the King.
- When the repentant thief turns to Him, and asks in faith, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom (verse 42), ” Jesus replied, “‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (verse 43).’”
- Though shamed by man and brought low in their sight, He is still Lord, He is still King!
- God’s plan of redemption through the Suffering Servant prophesied in Isaiah 55 is being accomplished, even as He draws His final breath. Christ Our Victor cannot be undone. His Kingship cannot be taken away. Death couldn’t hold Him, the grave couldn’t keep Him.
- In love, our King gave Himself as the innocent substitute for us that everyone who turns to Christ will be saved!
- How do we respond to this Truth Telling, Merciful, Substitutionary, Victorious King? We worship Him! We trust Him. We believe Him and no longer walk in shame.
- We glory in His mercy. We give thanks with a grateful heart. We enjoy and magnify Jesus Christ!
Questions For Discussion/Application
- Re-read the text, Luke 23:26-43.
- How does it affect you to read this text? What do you personally see in this text that highlights the glory of our Savior Jesus? What in this passage makes you want to worship the Savior?
- Read out loud the notes under point #1, “Christ the Truth Teller.” Christ loved these women enough draw their attention to their need to repent. As we procaim the gospel, how important is it that we also call people to respond to the gospel with repentance? What does it mean to truly repent? Why is the message of repentance difficult to proclaim?
- Read out loud the notes under point #2 “Christ the Merciful Savior.” What does it mean that God is merciful. How has God, in and through Christ been merciful to us? How does he continue to show us mercy today? How can we be faithful to show mercy to others?
- Note Care Group Leaders: if you want to focus on how we can model Christ’s mercy in our relationships, consider reading this article together out loud as a group and discussing.
- This passage highlights Christ as our substitute (Point #3). What does it mean that Christ is our substitute? Read the John Stott quote under point #3. What is Stott saying? How does that quote affect you?
- When the repentant thief turns to Jesus, and asks in faith, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom (verse 42).” Jesus replied, “‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (verse 43).’” What does this statement reveal to us about Christ?
- Consider taking time to pray focusing prayers on worshipping and praising Christ for who He is and what He has done for us.