The journey to the cross is complete. I am struck anew by the different responses of the crowd and Jesus. The crowd is silent or mocking, scoffing, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah!” The soldiers join in and cast lots for his clothes. The inscription above him is intended as a mockery. Even one of the thieves joins in, adding, “Save yourself and us!”
Have you ever been in a situation where everyone around you was hostile, laughing at you, mocking you? It makes you cringe and want to be as small as possible. As the derision continues, anger flairs up and burns hot. The fight-or-flight instinct is strong, though for Jesus, neither option is possible.
See how Jesus responds. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they do.” Jesus continues to show us the way of love, even on the cross. Forgiving those who nailed him there. Forgiving those who mock him. Forgiving those who remain silent. And when the other thief rebukes the one who mocked Jesus and begs to be remembered, Jesus offers mercy and grace – “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Responding with forgiveness and mercy when people intend you grave bodily and mental harm is against human nature, but it is the heart of God’s nature. As Christians (little Christs), we see how we should respond and confess that we often (well, mostly) fall short. Only through the grace of God can we hope to be Christ-like in our response to those who wish us ill. Ask, and you shall receive. Jesus promised.
Rev. Dr. Allison Byerley is the Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Hawkins, TX. She is one of the editors of this volume.
©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.