Read Luke 23:33-43 with your family.
This week the entire story of Good Friday is the backdrop for the scripture. The part of the video that shows our shorter scripture verse begins at the 2 minute mark.
This is known as ‘Reign of Christ’ Sunday or in some places “Christ the King” Sunday. It is the last day in the church year before we begin again with Advent next week. This is the last time we will hear about the way the writer of the Gospel of Luke saw Jesus for two years, and will move on to the Gospel of Matthew next week. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus made a difference through his teaching and healing ministries, challenged the authorities regularly, and told those with power that they were not acting the way God wanted them to act. And they killed Jesus for his political opinion and his social justice attitudes.
Luke tells that a sign was put on the cross above Jesus’ head, that read “King of the Judeans” (the Bible translators made the mistake of thinking it read “King of the Jews”, but haven’t changed it to Judeans even though we now know better). The Romans and their friends who wanted Jesus dead were mocking him while he was dying on the cross. One of the criminals beside him mocked him too.
However, the criminal on the other side understood that Jesus was bringing everyone a better life and wasn’t the political prisoner that Jesus was accused of being. He asked Jesus for forgiveness and to be part of the next life. Most Hebrew people believed God would one day help the good people return to the Garden of Eden where they wouldn’t have any more troubles. Jesus showed that even those who society decided were ‘bad’ people had the same opportunity to be part of God’s world, and that we didn’t have to wait for it to be some wonderful other place, it could be here in this world if we all worked together to build it.
Just knowing we are in God’s love means we understand what ‘paradise’ means. We know love, and that was the basis of all Jesus’ teachings about God and about serving each other.