A Choice to Make
As Jesus was crucified upon the cross, a sign was inscribed and erected over Him, proclaiming Him to be “the King of the Jews.” While this sign was meant as a taunt, it declared a truth for all to witness: Jesus was and is indeed King! Yet it also should prompt us to ask ourselves: Do I really live as though Jesus is King of my life?
Scripture tells us that the sign was written in three languages—Aramaic, the language of most first-century Jews in and around Jerusalem; Latin, the official language of the Roman Empire; and Greek, the popular language of commerce and culture (John 19:20). In these three languages, witnesses from all across the known world were able to read that Jesus was King. Upon reading the sign, the whole world had to make their choice about who Jesus was to them.
We see a microcosm of that world—and ours—in the range of characters throughout the story of Jesus’ death. In Pilate, we see the proud, indecisive, calculating politician. In the soldiers nailing Christ to His cross, we see those focused on carrying out routine business. In those who mocked the Lord, we see people whose only interaction with the divine is to sneer at Him. In the crowd of passive onlookers, we see those who have no interest at all in eternal matters. But then, amid the darkness, on a neighboring cross we see a desperate and dying thief look to the Savior for hope—and find it. And in Jesus’ nearby family and friends, we see sorrowful but faithful followers standing by Christ and His claims—and witnessing His burial in a tomb that would soon be empty.
All these people saw the sign: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. All of them saw the man on the cross beneath it. Whether hateful or hopeful, all beheld this historic event, and all had to reconcile it and the personhood of Christ with their own lives. As the sign hung proclaiming Christ’s kingship, Jesus hung proclaiming the most powerful love the world has known.
The question remains: What are we to do with this love? Each of us can find a face in the crowd with which we identify, be it one of the proud, the passive, or the faithful. All of us are confronted with the life-changing person of Jesus Christ.
How do the cross and the empty tomb affect your relationships, your work, your purpose, or your identity? If Jesus reigns over you, His death and resurrection change everything about the way you live and the meaning of your life. There is hope for eternity and purpose for today in looking at this man and agreeing with that sign. “Jesus is King”—of the Jews and the Gentiles, of the entire world, and of your life and mine.
32Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33And 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. 34And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”2 And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35And 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!” 36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38There was also an inscription over him,3 “This is the King of the Jews.”
39One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,4 saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The Death of Jesus
44It was now about the sixth hour,5 and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,6 45while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.
Jesus Is Buried
50Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.7 55The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.
On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
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