The Journey to the Cross
Bryan Craig

Day Five
Scripture:  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. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Thought:  Does this whole scene wrench your heart like it does mine?  Our precious Lord was being treated like a mere criminal.  Even one of the criminals proclaimed His innocence.  It is so hard to think of Him enduring this agony and this mockery.  And even in the midst of it, He has compassion on those who were torturing Him.
The soldiers actually showed some mercy in offering him the wine to help numb the pain, but He needed to feel the full weight of the pain.  And what an amazing interchange between Jesus and the criminal.  Jesus, the innocent, exchanges His life for all of us who deserve to be punished for our sins.  He demonstrates that if we trust in Him, we can join Him in paradise.
The curtain which divided common man from the presence of God in the temple was torn in two.  God was opening the door for us to come through the gate, through Jesus, to be in His presence.  The purpose of The Cross was completed.
Application:  Our Lord laid down His life for us in such a courageous, awe-inspiring manner.  This should motivate us to give our lives away.  When it comes to the end of our lives, will it really matter what wealth we’ve amassed or what power we possess.  Not only will we die, but we deserve death.
On the Cross, Jesus is opening His arms wide to us, inviting us into His sacrifice, feeling the weight of His pain and betrayal, breaking our hearts so they will be tenderized to the mission of our faith.  Jesus wants us to be like Him.  He wants us to live like servants, sacrificing our self-interest and our worldly desires, showing others the hope of the Cross.
Let’s journal about the significance of The Cross in our own lives.  Let’s ponder whether we are sharing the good news of The Cross.
Response:  In a few days, it is Easter.  Let’s remember the agony of The Cross as we gather with family and community to celebrate the glory of the Resurrection.  Our King was victorious over death.  He was obedient to complete His mission.  He died for us so we could be in paradise.
Let’s resolve to live a life of gratitude and service for our Savior.  Let us take up our crosses and follow Him wherever His road will take us.