Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Youth Page

Written by Peter Langbroek
They looked at Him. They saw His beaten face and naked body. And they jeered, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ the chosen of God." Those who jeered were the rulers, the religious leaders of the Jews!

"If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself." Those who mocked had gambled away his clothes. They had offered him vinegar as he hung in a public spot under the blazing sun. The mockers were the Roman soldiers.

Even the criminals hanging on the cross on either side joined in! They taunted, "If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us."

There's something deeply wicked in mankind, and children are no exception. Teasing meanly or putting someone down is common where children gather. People are like birds who peck at the other bird that is bleeding; it's called the pecking order. Another saying is Òshoot the wounded.Ó What the rulers, soldiers and criminals said to Jesus showed the dark, cruel side of mankind.

But this taunting scene goes deeper. As Jesus rightly said, it was their hour and the power of darkness. The raw hatred of His enemies was vented at Him as He hung in agonizing pain. Behind their hatred stood Satan, who it seemed, was at the height of his glory.

Yes, Jesus understands what it feels to be the victim of mean jeering, mocking, taunting and bullying. If you are ever the receiver of such, be assured that Jesus is identifying with you. Take your hurts to God in prayer. Jesus understands.

But take note: the power of darkness was not as it seemed. Jesus was the Victor! He endured the mocking to make peace for His enemies. He hung in pain, forsaken by God, to conquer sin and its consequence: death. And in that hour, He showed His love. For those who taunted Him cruelly, He prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

In that hour of the power of darkness, Jesus forgave one of his taunters. On one side of the cross, Jesus' neighbour mocked Him, but on the other side Jesus' neighbour took a stand for Him. He rebuked the other criminal, saying, "Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward for our deeds; but this man hath done nothing amissÓ (Luke 24: 40,41). The power of God's love overwhelmed the one hardened criminal. He knew what he deserved and what his duty was--to fear God. He was convicted of his sin. He also turned to Jesus and in faith made this request: "Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdomÓ (Luke 24: 42).

Jesus' reply was, "Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradiseÓ (Luke 24: 43).

The one criminal's confession reveals the heart of man's darkness in the light of the holiness of God. We all are under the same condemnation, deserving just judgment. But Jesus' reply reveals His heart of compassion to all who request His mercy. In those few moments a vile sinner, a former taunter, changed into a child of God, and now lives eternally with God in glory!

The moment of darkness was the moment of triumph, as Colossians 2: 13-15 declares: "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all tresspasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."

As you survey the cross, stand convicted: a lost sinner before God. Stand amazed: in the midst of a jeering crowd Christ forgave His neighbour on the cross. Pray! He never turns down those who beg for His mercy. And toward those who sin against you, remember to imitate the spirit and act of forgiveness that Christ demonstrated on the cross. Forgive them as Christ forgave you.

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