Monday, October 11, 2021

2021.10.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 23:26–34

Read Luke 23:26–34

Questions from the Scripture text: What were they doing to Jesus (Luke 23:26a)? Of whom did they lay hold? From where was he coming? What did they do to him? So that he might do what? Who was following Jesus (Luke 23:27a)? Who also, and what were they doing (verse 27b)? To whom does Jesus turn (Luke 23:28)? What does He call them? What does He tell them not to do? What does He tell them to do instead and for whom? What does He say are coming (Luke 23:29)? What will they say in those days? What will people begin saying to what (Luke 23:30)?  What comparison does He make in Luke 23:31? Who else was being led with Him (Luke 23:32)? For what purpose? To where did they come (Luke 23:33)? What did they do there? In what order were they arranged? To Whom did Jesus speak (Luke 23:34a)? What did He ask Him to do? Why? And what were they doing (verse 34b)? 

In Luke’s account of Jesus’s trial, the Holy Spirit sandwiches Pilate’s threefold acquittal of Christ (Luke 23:13-25) in between the Lord Jesus’s perfect entrusting of Himself to God in Luke 23:1-12 and now the perfect love toward others that Christ displays here in Luke 23:26-34.

Jesus selflessly loves His followers. Though the multitude in Luke 23:27a surely includes those who were crying out for Him to be crucified, the evangelist especially highlights for us Simon the Cyrenian (Luke 23:26) and weeping women (Luke 23:27b). Because young Mark is acquainted with his children Alexander and Rufus (cf. Mark 15:21), it seems likely that this Simon was a friend of Christ, following close enough to be abused for his Master’s sake (unlike the other Simon, who needs to repent into his “rock” name by the gracious prayers of his Redeemer). 

It seems that in God’s providence, this substitution was (in part) in order to free Jesus for His interaction with the weeping women. Behold the selfless love of our Lord! Here, He has already been thoroughly abused and is being led to the scene of His murder, and His thoughts are for the women and the children (Luke 23:28-29). Even as He suffers that which must occur for our atonement, He is thinking about the judgment that must fall for what is being done to Him. We have seen this before (cf. Luke 13:34–35; Luke 19:41–44; Luke 21:20–24) .

How marvelous is the love of Christ, even toward His enemies! The peak example of this occurs, of course, in Luke 23:34. Criminals on His right and left (Luke 23:33). Criminals beneath His feet, stealing his garments (Luke 23:34b). Criminals all ‘round, murdering Him. And He prays, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Yes, there is something here of the general love of God for grace and redemption (cf. Ezekiel 18:23, Ezekiel 18:31–32, 1 Timothy 2:3–4). But, there is something even more wonderful here. For, the Lord Jesus is laying down His life for His sheep, and all of His sheep were once enemies. God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (cf. Romans 5:8). Christ died for His enemies (cf. Romans 5:10) because He had chosen them to be His sheep (cf. John 10:11John 10:15). 

Here is the great love of Christ. In this passage is a mirror of what we are apart from Him, but also a window into His enemy-loving heart, from which He took as His sheep and laid His life down for us whom He would bring to Himself through faith! And if that’s what He was like toward us, when we were His enemies, what is His heart toward us like now (cf. Romans 5:9–11)? Still, when we sin, He pleads His own atoning blood as He prays, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do”!

What were you like apart from God’s grace? If you’re a believer, why did Christ die for you? If He loved you that much then, what is He doing now for you when you sin?

Sample prayer:  Lord, how amazing is Your love toward Your enemies! Thank you for laying down Your life for us, that we might be both forgiven and made like You. Grant that we would love You Who first loved us, and that like You we would be enabled from the heart to forgive and love our own enemies, which we ask through Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH431 “And Can It Be That I Should Gain”

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