Luke 23:33–47 (NLT) When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. 35 The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. 37 They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” 40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” 44 By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 45 The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. 46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last. 47 When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.”
The cross is the reason why Jesus came into the world. In fact, He made that clear in how He spoke of His purpose in coming. Jesus said,
“Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!” (John 12:27b)…“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10)…“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45)… “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10)… “I have come to call…those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” (Luke 5:32).
Jesus described His death and resurrection several times to the disciples. Here is His detailed description of what He would face,
“Listen, we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. 19 Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” (Matthew 20:18–19).
Jesus had a very specific mission to fulfill. Every action He took, every miracle He performed, every demon He cast out, and every word He spoke pointed to His mission.
“God made this sinless man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with him we might fully share in God’s righteousness.”
(2 Corinthians 5:21, CJB).
“He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
Do you realize this is the meaning of Christmas?
Many years ago, I was part of a wonderful church that each year produced The Indiana Christmas Pageant. This live stage show began with a Victorian Christmas with caroling in period dress. Then it transitioned to tell the entire story of Jesus, from His birth to His death and resurrection. I would often meet someone who said they had been to our “Easter Pageant.” I smiled because we never did an Easter pageant, but since our Christmas Pageant included the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, they connected it with Easter.
I believe that is what should always happen when we tell the Christmas story. The manger without the cross is no story at all!
So What? What about the Christmas-Crucifixion story in the Bible brings you the most joy?
Header Image © 2022 Onward Church