Thursday 28th March
Luke 22:31, 23:39-43
Imagine for a moment if you were Jesus, about to suffer the most gruesome and painful death on the cross, would you be thinking about others or would your focus be on yourself? Lets add another dynamic to that question. Would your attitude change if you knew that not only were you going die a brutal criminals death but in the very next few moments, that you would experience humanity’s rebellion as you bore their sins, from the beginning of existence until the end? YET this did not change Jesus’ love for humanity. In fact there are two examples of Jesus’ mercy that I wanted to share with you. One is before the cross and the second is on the cross.
The first is taken from Luke 22:31. Jesus has just finishing the Passover meal with His disciples. After the Last Supper, Jesus turns to Peter and says that he will deny Him. However Peter was adamant that he would never do such a thing and would even go to prison or death with Jesus. Yet we so often overlook Jesus’ words and miss the most powerful part of His statement. Jesus, firstly says that although the enemy had asked for him, He had prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. If we continue for a moment, Jesus says that once Peter had been restored (repented) and turned to Jesus again, he was to strengthen the other disciples in faith. Ok, so Jesus has just said that Peter will deny Him, however because Jesus had prayed that his faith might not fail, He is already thinking ahead to his restoration and to his use in God’s kingdom purposes. Are we understanding this? Jesus in His mercy, knowing Peter would deny Him, reinstates him before he has actually denied Him and not only that, He commissions Peter to strengthen the others. WOW, what mercy is that?
However Jesus’ acts of mercy do not end there. In Luke 23 we read of Jesus’ last hours on the cross. As Jesus was hanging upon the cross, one of the two criminals hanging next to Him, shouted out and started scorning Jesus with his sarcastic and patronising words. Jesus, in His love and patience did not reply to him, however His heart was stirred by the response of the other criminal in his reaction to hearing the rage of his friend. “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong!” Jesus’ heart was moved when He saw and heard a man, admit that he had fallen below the standard that a holy God required him to live by and moved with compassion, reconciled that sinful criminal to Himself and promised Him life in paradise. What mercy is that? In what was probably His last few words, Jesus instead of gasping for breath to save His own life, stretches out His mercy and grace and forgives and saves a repentant sinner.
Be encouraged today that even though you may be far from God or about to deny Him in some way, His love for you is still the same. He joyfully bled and died on the cross, took the punishment for your sin on Himself, so that you might be restored and forgiven. Jesus is merciful and is already planning how He can use you when you have repented and turned back to Him. It’s not too late. Make your peace with Him. He is Lord, He has risen from the dead and He is Lord.