And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last. Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent.” And all the crowds who came together for this spectacle, when they observed what had happened, began to return, beating their breasts. And all His acquaintances and the women who accompanied Him from Galilee were standing at a distance, seeing these things.
Understanding And Applying the Text
While Jesus was being crucified, Jesus asked for the forgiveness of His executioners. In his dying moments, Jesus forgave as He told us to forgive. The soldiers, the scribes, and the chief priests did not realize who Jesus was. So Jesus asked the Father to forgive them.
It would have been easy to return their evil with vengeance. (1 Peter 3:9). Peter exhorts us to follow Christ’s example. He did not return curses for curses. He did not take revenge for the injuries He received. Having God as His avenger satisfied Him. (1 Peter 2:23.) A higher virtue is to pray that God forgives His enemies.
The 6th hour was from noon to 1 The 9th hour is from 3 PM until 4 PM so darkness lasted from 3 to 4 hours. During that time Jesus died.
They crucified Jesus between two criminals. One of the two joined the crowd in mocking Jesus. He berates Christ for not being able to save either himself or others. But this is directed against God Himself. When wicked men, do not get what they wish, find a way to blame others. In this case, the criminal is angry God is delivering justice. This shows no punishment can bend the wicked heart because it is as hard as iron.
The other criminal asked for forgiveness. He asked Jesus to remember him. Jesus told him that, that very day he would be with Jesus in paradise. The criminal did nothing to deserve his forgiveness. Jesus offered it as a free gift. The scribes and chief priests, and soldiers did nothing to deserve forgiveness. Nonetheless, Christ prayed for their forgiveness. This is an example of how we are to behave. People may not deserve our forgiveness but we are to forgive freely.
From the crowd’s standpoint, if Jesus were the Son of God why would God allow such things to happen to Him? Those who had hoped He would usher in the Kingdom of God and overthrow the Romans may have felt betrayed. Jesus could not be the Messiah if he was being killed. They may have felt Jesus had misled them. They had believed a lie. Understanding that point of view is easy to understand why they taunted Jesus. They felt anger. Their anger was not at the Roman soldiers. It was not towards the chief priests. They aimed it right at Jesus The hopes they had placed in Jesus were all coming apart. They may have felt Jesus was a fraud. They may have felt the chief priest and scribes were right all along. “Hey, you healed others why don’t you save yourself.” “King of the Jew, Yea you are a fraud!”
It makes me wonder what I would have done if I had been there. What would you have done? I would like to say the worst I would have done is stand there quietly. I would like to say I would have mourned the death of my Lord. But more likely I would have been one of those jeering and taunting Jesus. I would have been one of the worst. As I am honest with myself I see the darkness of my heart. Yes, I would have rejected Jesus. But praise God, Jesus would have forgiven me. Praise be to God because Jesus rose from the grave and does forgive me. He forgives you too. So what are you going to do about it? I will live for Him!