by Crystal Townsend
Luke’s portrayal of Jesus’ crucifixion elicits both disgust and admiration, sorrow and joy, rage and peace. How could something so brutal be equally beautiful?! Jesus, who had just endured a trial resulting in the freedom of a murderer and His own condemnation to death, peacefully treads toward the hill of Golgotha as the crowds are in chaos. His heart is turned to the Father as He chooses to plead, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). The crowds observe. Lots are cast for His clothes. Jesus is tormented and humiliated. A conversation begins . . . one that cuts to the heart of the situation.
The first criminal chooses to torment Jesus as he hangs beside Him. He questions Jesus’ authority and power while mocking Him. The second criminal hanging beside Jesus cannot stay silent. He grasps the fact that he is a sinner, being justly punished, and he knows Jesus has done nothing wrong. After rebuking the mocker, he humbly asks Jesus to remember him in His kingdom. Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
The grace, peace, and forgiveness the sinner received was given freely by a Savior who chose to take the punishment for our sin. Who endured a torturous crucifixion for the purpose of redeeming the very people who sin against Him. Who chose obedience even to the point of death in order to glorify God the Father. Who walked peacefully, as a lamb to the slaughter. This portrayal of Jesus’ crucifixion is brutal as we realize our own filth and required punishment, but it is beautiful as we realize Jesus’ willing sacrifice for our redemption.