Flashback Episode — Being a Son of God: Luke 22:66-71

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On the morning of Jesus’ crucifixion, as the religious leaders are trying to build the case for execution, the gospel of Luke includes a profound series of statements that the religious leaders use to build their case for Jesus’ crucifixion.

Taken on their own, what Jesus shares in response to the religious leader’s demands is simply countercultural. But when we look at an earlier portion of Luke’s gospel, we see the most rational grounds for who Jesus claimed to be, and in this claim, as well as in the religious leaders’ reaction, we see how far from God’s plan these spiritual leaders had fallen.

Let’s read how Luke describes this event, from the gospel letter that is named after him, using the God’s Word to the Nations translation. Reading from chapter 22, starting in verse 66, Luke tells us that:

66 In the morning the council of the people’s leaders, the chief priests and the experts in Moses’ Teachings, gathered together. They brought Jesus in front of their highest court and asked him, 67 “Tell us, are you the Messiah?”

Jesus said to them, “If I tell you, you won’t believe me. 68 And if I ask you, you won’t answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be in the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne.”

70 Then all of them said, “So you’re the Son of God?”

Jesus answered them, “You’re right to say that I am.”

71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We’ve heard him say it ourselves.”

The religious leaders in this passage build the case for Jesus’ execution on the idea that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. This claim comes immediately after Jesus side-steps the question about whether He is the Messiah that the Jews were expecting.

On the surface, the Messiah question was a much simpler question to answer, except that Jesus knows that they have a narrow view of their Messiah, and Jesus knew that their narrow view had drifted away from what God had prophesied throughout history.

Jesus knows that these leaders are only interested in building a case for His death, and they are not interested in a discussion or a debate, so Jesus gives them something they can build their case on – except that it is one of the weakest foundations for them to stand on.

While the Old Testament law held the death sentence for people who committed blasphemy, the religious leaders had over-extended the definition of what blasphemy actually was. While claiming equality or superiority to God is breaking laws regarding blasphemy, as we will soon see in Luke’s gospel, claiming to be a son of God is completely valid for someone – really anyone to do.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He seemed to gravitate towards the self-descriptive name “son of man” which echo’s back to a prophecy from the book of Daniel. While technically, Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father, it is likely Jesus used this name in a more general sense to describe Himself as a “Son of humanity”.

The reason that these leaders frowned upon the idea of Jesus being God’s Son is that it appeared as though He was elevating Himself into being equal with God – which is wrong for a sinner to do. However, if we look at the last verse in Luke chapter 3, we see that at the very end of Luke’s version of Jesus’ genealogy, Luke tells us that Adam, the first human, was “the son of God”.

Here at the beginning of Luke’s description of Jesus’ adult life, we see a solid, rational case for Jesus being God’s Son because everyone who has ever lived is technically a child of God. Everyone alive at any point in history has breath because God gave it to them, and regardless of whether they use their breath of life to give God glory or to curse God to His face, their existence is directly connected to a gift from God.

The religious leaders foundation for Jesus’ crucifixion, which was them putting words in His mouth about being a Son of God is the weakest foundation for them to stand on. They would have a better case standing on what Jesus had just said in verse 69 when He tells them that, “From now on, the Son of Man will be in the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne.

This statement, which cannot actually be validated in this life, could only be spoken by someone who is delusional, or by someone who actually lived their lives so close to God that God would choose them for the honored position at His side. This statement is one that challenged the religious leaders at their core, because not only was a human unworthy to be even considered honored before God, it would be prideful for someone to place themselves in this position on their own merit.

In this passage, Jesus uses the term Son of Man in His response to the religious leaders, and they shift His words in their reply to Son of God. If Jesus was to avoid lying to the leaders, there was no way around admitting to being God’s Son because of how Luke described Jesus’ ancestry.

By building the case against Jesus on the grounds of being God’s Son, and not on the statement that Jesus would be honored by God, the religious leaders unknowingly set themselves up to be on the side that is against God.

They build their case on the ground that Jesus was merely a human, and not that Jesus was ungodly. They incriminate themselves with their argument and reveal how un-Godlike they really are by rejecting and condemning a person who was clearly helping people in God’s name. Even if Jesus was not directly God’s Son in a first-generation sense, He was the most God-like person living in that culture during the first century, and that in itself builds a solid case for God adopting Jesus as His Son.

No way one looks at this event do the religious leaders come out appearing positive or justified. Instead, their accusation and the foundation they build their case on is the weakest one available – but they pick it because they are blinded by their hatred of Jesus. The leaders latch onto whatever they can easily take a hold of because they want to see Jesus killed.

Which leaves the question in my mind: If Jesus knew that they would use this response against Him as the foundation for His death, why would He still say it?

Critics might argue that Jesus had no way out of this scenario, but all Jesus would have needed to do is simply answer in the same way that He answered before, by stating that they would not believe His response, even if He told them an answer.

Jesus instead chose His words carefully because He knew His path included the cross. Jesus was willing to face death in order to open up a way for new life for each of us. While the religious leaders chose a weak foundation for their case against Jesus, Jesus chose death because He knew His death was much more significant from the perspective of eternity. Jesus’ death opens the way for all of God’s people to experience eternity.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I want to leave you with:

Be sure to intentionally seek God first and make Him the most important focus of your life. Regardless of what others might think or believe, think of yourself as a child of God, if for no other reason than God is responsible for there being life in your body. Because God has given you breath, know that He wants to adopt you into His very literal and spiritual family that will be rewarded with eternity.

Also, study the Bible for yourself to learn, grow, and know God better. Prayerfully study and ask God to teach you what He wants you to learn. While a pastor or podcaster such as myself can give you ideas and insights from what we have learned, God wants your relationship with Him to be personal and not dependant on any third-party intermediary.

And as I always end each set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Season 3 – Episode 46: Cam discusses the case the Jewish leaders build against Jesus, which centered around the claim that Jesus was the Son of God.

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The Final Request: John 19:18-27

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For the past two episodes, we have focused in on Jesus’ time on the cross. First we looked at Mark’s gospel, which closely parallel’s Matthew’s gospel two episodes ago, and in our last episode, we spent some time looking at Luke’s gospel and what it shared. For this episode, let’s take the few minutes we have together and look at John’s gospel, and what we can learn from how it records this event.

Just as Luke’s gospel is similar while also different from both Matthew and Mark, John’s gospel is similar but unique from the other three gospels. Our passage for this episode is found in John’s gospel, chapter 19, and we will read it from the New International Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 18, John tells us that:

18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

Let’s pause for a moment because I want to highlight something fascinating I see in these first five verses. First, I find it interesting that this sign was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. This is interesting because these likely were the common languages of the Roman Empire. It’s also interesting because Hebrew was not one of the languages in the mix. Perhaps the Jews primarily spoke Aramaic during the first century, or perhaps Pilate intended this to be a subtle message for those traveling into Jerusalem at that time.

However, it’s also interesting that the chief priests disapprove of Pilate’s wording on this sign. While Jesus never claimed kingship towards the Jews or even towards anything on this earth, Pilate concluded from his conversation with Jesus that Jesus was not ordinary, and that Jesus probably did deserve the title of king. Pilate gives Jesus the title of king, which is what the religious leaders said was the charge against Jesus when they brought Him to Pilate. But the religious leaders want to distance themselves as far away from Jesus as they can, and Pilate can see this, but I believe Pilate also realizes that Jesus likely was the Messiah that they had been waiting for.

Pilate stood firm with his message declaring Jesus to be the king of the Jews, and with this declaration, comes the subtle jab towards the religious leaders that they were the ones who rejected the King God had promised and sent them.

Not only does John describe the religious leaders bickering with Pilate over the wording of the sign, John takes a few verses describing how pagan Roman soldiers fulfilled a prophecy they likely didn’t have any idea existed. Continuing in verse 23, John tells us that:

23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

“They divided my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.”

So this is what the soldiers did.

Pausing again, I am amazed that something like this could have been predicted centuries before Jesus walked the earth so amazingly accurately that it clearly is applicable for this event. Oddly enough, this scriptural prediction foreshadowed Jesus’ death more than a Jesus who would never die, because someone who is alive wouldn’t have their clothing divided or their undergarments gambled for. The first century Jews were looking for a Messiah who would last forever without tasting death; Jesus came as a Messiah who would face death, and ultimately defeat it.

But with all this emotional turmoil, John records a final request Jesus has before He takes His last breath. Picking back up in verse 25 and reading the rest of our passage, John concludes by telling us:

25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

While John’s gospel is one that names and identifies more disciples than not, there are several places where John intentionally avoids naming the disciple. The most notable times John does this are during the Last Supper, here at the cross, and again following Jesus’ resurrection. Tradition holds that this unnamed disciple is John himself, and I don’t have any reason to doubt this.

However, the last thing Jesus focuses on while He is hanging on the cross is the care of His mother. While bearing the weight of the sins of humanity, Jesus focuses on taking care of His mother. While I don’t know where any of the other siblings Jesus had were, or why none of them would have taken Mary in, John honors Jesus’ last request and takes Mary as his mother and cares for her like he would for his own mother. While Jesus wouldn’t stay dead, He also wasn’t staying present on earth either, so this request, while given during the darkest part of history, remained relevant through the triumph of the resurrection, ascension, and the expansion of the early church.

In John’s gospel, we discover that Pilate recognized Jesus in a way that the religious leaders were unwilling to see Jesus, we see an amazing prophecy predicted about the Messiah being fulfilled by a bunch of pagans who would have no idea the prophecy even existed, and we have Jesus remembering His mother during the darkest part of earth’s history. We can look at what John describes here and know that through the rejection, the darkness, and the pain, God has been there, and He will lead us through to the other side.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Be sure to always seek God first and put your faith in Him. Trust that God knows what will happen and that His goal is focused on saving you for eternity. While our world is filled with pain, trials, and rejection, we know that because Jesus triumphed over death, God will protect His people and save them for eternity.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow closer to God and to discover what God wants to teach you through His Word. While pastors, authors, speakers, or even podcasters can give you ideas to think about, filter everything you hear or read through the pages and truth in God’s Word.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or fall away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of the Cross – Episode 46: John’s gospel describes the religious leaders’ final request of Pilate, one of the last prophecies about Jesus’ ministry being fulfilled by a bunch of pagans, and Jesus’ last request to John regarding His mother. Discover how all these things summarize what God wants to help each of us with in our lives 2,000+ years later.

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Flashback Episode — Intentional Surrender: Matthew 26:36-46

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On the night Jesus was arrested, all four gospels describe how He goes with His eleven remaining disciples to a place just outside of Jerusalem called Gethsemane. While there, during the last moments Jesus has before His arrest, and following His last big teaching opportunity with the disciples, Jesus does something that is worth paying attention to.

For our episode this week, we’ll be focusing in on Matthew’s version of this event, though the idea we’ll be focusing in on is found in more than just Matthew’s gospel. This event is found in Matthew, chapter 26, and for our time together, we will be reading from the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 36, Matthew tells us:

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee. Grief and anguish came over him, 38 and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 He went a little farther on, threw himself face downward on the ground, and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.”

40 Then he returned to the three disciples and found them asleep; and he said to Peter, “How is it that you three were not able to keep watch with me for even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 Once more Jesus went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cup of suffering cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 He returned once more and found the disciples asleep; they could not keep their eyes open.

44 Again Jesus left them, went away, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look! The hour has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to the power of sinners. 46 Get up, let us go. Look, here is the man who is betraying me!”

During the last hours, or maybe even minutes, before Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, arrives with the mob to arrest Jesus, Jesus spends the last moments in prayer regarding the mission and trial He is about to undertake. While some people might read Jesus’ prayer and believe that He is pushing back on God’s mission for Him to face the cross, I think that this is not the essence of Jesus’ prayer here. While the cross was coming up on the horizon not even 24 hours later, I believe Jesus was praying for something happening that was much more present than a fear of the cross.

In Jesus’ first prayer, found in verse 39, He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.” Chances are that His prayer was a little longer than two sentences, but perhaps this was all these three disciples heard before falling asleep.

This prayer contains two important ideas for us to consider.

The first idea is that Jesus conditionally asks for a cup of suffering to be taken from Him – specifically only if it is possible. This implies that Jesus was already facing suffering of some kind. Never before in Jesus’ ministry do we get the idea that Jesus was fearful, but perhaps this was the moment fear entered His life. However, following the mob’s arrival and the trial, we don’t see Jesus display any fear, so this is unlikely to be a moment of fear.

Part of me wonders if the arrival of Jesus and His disciples to Gethsemane marked the start of the Father pulling His presence away from Jesus, while Jesus was emotionally and spiritually taking on the sins of everyone who had ever lived. If this were the case, I could see Jesus’ time in Gethsemane before His arrest being much more difficult than the road of pain and abuse leading to the cross.

However, there is a second idea in Jesus’ first prayer that deserves our attention. Jesus finishes off by saying, “Yet not what I want, but what you want.

In the midst of a trial so big that we cannot even begin to imagine it’s total size, Jesus asks the question about if there was another way, but He frames the response He wants to receive as simply God’s will being done and not His own. While God could have swept Jesus up to Heaven at that very moment, and wiped the universe clean to start over from that point, it wasn’t part of God’s plan to give up at the most difficult moment the Godhead had ever faced. We might think that it was difficult for Jesus but not for God the Father or the Holy Spirit for that 24-48 hour period, but that would be a mistake.

If God truly is known as a Father, watching His Son face death would be one of the hardest things He could do, especially knowing that while He could stop it from happening, any delay would progress the pain Jesus was in, and abandoning the mission would prove Satan’s case against God that said God was unfair and unrealistic.

In this prayer, we see Jesus submitting to God when the times get tough, and while I know the Father wanted to help Him, God knew that any help would validate Satan’s charge against the Godhead.

After Jesus returns, wakes the disciples up, asks them again to keep watch, He returns and prays a second prayer, which is similar to the first. In verse 42, Jesus prayed, “My Father, if this cup of suffering cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.

Jesus’ second prayer includes more courage and strength than the first. God the Father had probably answered Jesus’ prayers much more quickly than it appeared to be on this night, and because of this, I wonder if Jesus, who hadn’t seen or heard anything change following His first prayer, then shifted His prayers towards accepting the mission of suffering.

Both times Jesus frames that what He wants is God’s will do be done, and in both cases, Jesus says these words knowing that it will bring suffering into His life. While Matthew doesn’t quote Jesus’ third prayer, he tells us that it was similar to the first two prayers.

We can learn from Jesus in what we see in Gethsemane. While all the disciples were facing temptation in those hours with Jesus, I believe the greatest temptations were being pressed towards Jesus Himself.

The temptations likely centered on the ideas that Jesus’ sacrifice would not be worth it, it wouldn’t be accepted by God, no one on earth would care that He had died, and His life would ultimately be wasted.

In these moments of temptation, Jesus surrenders, but while we might surrender by doing whatever thing we are being tempted to do, Jesus surrendered into doing God’s will. It was not God’s will that Jesus would abandon humanity when things got tough, so regardless of Jesus’ prayers, as long as He framed Himself wanting to stay within God’s will and the plan they had set up, no help from Heaven would come.

When we face temptation, the best place for us to surrender is into doing God’s will. While this is clearly easier to say than it is to do, our prayers for help should always be prefaced with God’s will being done.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I want to leave with you this week:

Continue to seek God first in your life and intentionally submit to His will. When temptation comes, choose to surrender to God and let Him direct and protect you as He sees fit. Sometimes relief will come, but other times, it may feel like we are facing temptation alone. However, God will not abandon us like He never abandoned Jesus. Jesus was raised from the dead at the perfect time, and this is proof that even if we experience feeling like God is silent, He is never truly absent.

Also, be sure to always study the Bible for yourself in order to strengthen your connection with God. While not every study time will be filled with insights or feelings of closeness with God, the only way to ever get any personal insights or to feel close with God is through intentionally drawing near to Him in personal study. Prayer and personal study are much more important for each of us than simply listening to a pastor or podcaster.

And as I always end each set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Season 3 – Episode 45: Cam discusses some things we can learn from Jesus praying in Gethsemane on the night He was arrested.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.

Learning from a Criminal: Luke 23:32-43

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In our last episode, we focused in on Mark’s gospel, and what we can learn from it about Jesus’ time on the cross. Mark’s gospel is very similar to Matthew’s gospel. However, Luke’s gospel, which is the one we will be looking at in this episode, shares a unique event that the other gospels don’t include, and this detail may shed light on why Jesus decided to be crucified on that weekend.

While prophecy pointed to the time Jesus would die, remember that the Godhead could have written prophecy to say whatever they wanted it to say, so Jesus wasn’t acting outside of the Godhead’s plan, nor was He trapped by it. The whole Godhead wrote this particular weekend into prophecy and creation for a specific reason and I believe Luke’s gospel shares what this reason might be.

Our last episode focused on and ended with Jesus receiving insults from everyone around Him, but I hinted at not everyone being so hostile. Let’s read what Luke shares with us, and about one condemned man’s request for a favor from Jesus. Our passage is found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 23, and we will be reading from the New International Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 32, Luke tells us:

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

Pausing briefly here, what we have just read echoes what we see written in Matthew and Mark’s gospel. However, from this point forward in Luke’s gospel, he draws our attention onto the two criminals, and how each one interacted with Jesus. Continuing in verse 39, Luke tells us:

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

When we read these last four verses, it is very tempting to shift our entire focus onto Jesus’ promise in the last verse, how immediate this promise sounds, and on how this criminal gets saved at the last possible moment. It is tempting to focus on the “deathbed confessional” and use it as a model or plan for our lives.

However, focusing on these verses in this way is both risky, and it cheapens the gift God is offering to us. We don’t know anything about these two criminals, about what they did, about when they were arrested, about how long they had been in prison, or if they had any previous interaction with Jesus.

It is very probable to conclude that with how famous Jesus was among the people, that these two criminals definitely knew about Jesus, about His ability to perform miracles, and about His love for the least in society, but we don’t have any idea if either had met Jesus before.

Regardless of their past, what we see displayed on the cross from these two criminals is amazing. The first criminal hurled insults at Jesus and he challenged Jesus to save Himself and them. This criminal had a selfish focus and a focus that was only looking at the present world. In an odd sort of way, this first criminal, who may have been thrown in prison for following a messiah who wanted to overthrow Rome now turns to Jesus and challenges Him with the notion regarding Jesus being the Messiah, even though Jesus has never shown any military interests, and He avoided being sucked into political discussion.

However, the second criminal has a different focus. The second criminal focuses not on the present life and present circumstances, but on the future one. I believe that the Godhead chose that weekend for Jesus to die because they wanted this criminal with them in heaven!

But while turning to God at the end of one’s life might seem appealing, it is a very dangerous plan. At the very least, since we don’t know when we will die, or if we will die suddenly or gradually, following a deathbed confessional plan is dangerous because a sudden death means we won’t have chosen God. This plan only works if our life follows a predictable plan, and while some aspects of life are predictable, there are plenty of cases where lives are cut short quickly because of sin.

However, where this criminal is when He comes to Jesus is different than each of us. We have no evidence for this criminal accepting Jesus, then rejecting Him, then coming back to Him here on the cross. It’s possible this is what happened, because God is ready and willing to forgive, but it is also very possible that this criminal had never met Jesus and sharing a cross next to Jesus was the first chance he got to be with Him.

But this conversation while these men were on the cross reveals three amazing things about conversion that we might not realize at first.

First, this conversion demonstrates a fear and respect of God. The criminal opens his mouth by first defending God against the criticism of the other criminal. Verse 40 tells us the second criminal rebukes the first one saying, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence?” The second criminal defends God and acknowledges God’s right to judge.

Second, the second criminal acknowledges that he deserves the punishment he is being given. Another way to say this is that this second criminal acknowledges that he is a sinner who deserves to die. At the most basic level, everyone who has ever sinned, and this is everyone who has ever lived except Jesus, deserves death. The second criminal acknowledges that his life and his choices deserve death, by saying in the first part of verse 41, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.

But thirdly, the second criminal acknowledges that Jesus is innocent and that He is being punished while not deserving this punishment. Verse 41 finishes with the criminal acknowledging, “But this man [referring to Jesus] has done nothing wrong.” This criminal defends Jesus publicly against the ridicule of everyone else present, and he publicly allies himself with Jesus even though they both are facing death.

All three of these themes in these two verses of defense ally this second criminal with God, and the only way this criminal could acknowledge this is if the Holy Spirit had been working on his heart leading up to this moment. Even before asking Jesus for the favor, the criminal displays a relationship with God that shows God has been working on his heart and his life.

This criminal isn’t doing a 180 turn spiritually while on the cross, but in however long he had been locked up in prison, the Holy Spirit had been working on his heart leading him to realize his sin and his need for a Savior.

The declaration on the cross concludes with a request of Jesus. The criminal asks Jesus in verse 42 to “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The criminal acknowledges that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, and that it is of a heavenly nature. The criminal acknowledges the divinity of Jesus in his request.

We could spend an entire other episode talking about the ideas surrounding Jesus’ answer to this criminal’s request and the debates that exist over how immediate Jesus’ promise sounds, but these debates are less relevant than the simple truth that Jesus accepted this criminal and his request. Jesus accepted this criminal’s request because in this request, we see evidence of a changed heart and a changed life, and this sort of change can only come from a heart that has let the Holy Spirit work on it behind the scenes.

Jesus is ready and willing to accept us when we come to Him with a heart that the Holy Spirit has been working on as well. This passage points us to the powerful truth that: Where you finish your life is more important than where you start it – and the only place that is worth ending your life is being allied with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit living in your heart!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always seek God first and choose today to let the Holy Spirit live in your heart and life, and publicly ally with Jesus. While it might be easier to hide your faith, a hidden faith is not valuable to others or to God in the big picture. This criminal displays a faith that is public through his defense of Jesus before making his request. God has called us to defend Jesus and to publicly acknowledge Him before others.

Also, as I regularly challenge you to do, always pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow your personal relationship with Jesus. Prayer and Bible study are ways of bringing the Holy Spirit into your heart and into your life and God is happy to give you the Holy Spirit when you are earnestly seeking to grow towards Him. Intentionally move and grow towards God today through prayer and studying your Bible.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, chicken out of, or fall away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of the Cross – Episode 45: When Luke tells us about a criminal asking Jesus for a favor, we discover some amazing truth about someone who was nailed to a cross next to Jesus. You might be surprised with what this criminal says, with what he asks, and with how Jesus responds!

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.