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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Christ the King - Lk 23:33-43 - Key Questions

v34 Why would Jesus ask to forgive them, even though they didn't know what that were doing?
I don't get this prayer of Jesus. The "forgive" translations (page 2) of the greek word 'aphiemi', seems to be strongly connected with repentance. A passage search of "know not" (KJV) does not seem to reveal any passages that provide any light on this either.

One might try to claim that Jesus knowing the "bigger picture" of what is achieved by Him going to the cross, is forgiving the executors, because they are merely pawns carrying out "fate". This view is problematic, and one I do not endorse without a much better rationalization. The problem from this view is that if God is able to forgive here without the repentance of the executors, then why does he expect repentance from others?

My NIV study bible contains a footnote that the sentence in v34 where Jesus speaks is missing in some manuscripts. Might it be a later addition, to Luke's original text? Is there a link somewhere out there to a site where this is discussed?

v34 What is the significance of the reference to them casting lots over Jesus clothing?
There is a strong link to Psalm 22 in this passage...

12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. 13 Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. 18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

With this reference, it seems that Luke (for the matter all the gospel writers) is wanting his readers to be reminded of a passage in the scriptures, which he finds significant. They are. Luke is wanting to prime his readers and listeners with what is the main essence of this story. Jesus is surrounded by people who hate Him, and want Him dead.

There is also the significant theme in Psalm 22 of rescue.

4 In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. 5 They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. 6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: 8 "He trusts in the LORD ; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."

In the passage this week, the threefold repetition of the onlookers, soldier, and criminal is "save yourself". The tension in this juxtaposition of scriptural history of God rescuing man and the call for Jesus (God) to rescue Himself, is intentional on the part of Luke.

v42 What is the second criminal really asking for when he says, "remember me..."?

The idea of remembering and forgeting is linked with eternity.

Luke 12:5-7 5 I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

It is also connected with confession.

Psalm 25:6- 11 6 Remember, O LORD , your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. 7 Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD . 8 Good and upright is the LORD ; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. 9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. 10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant. 11 For the sake of your name, O LORD , forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

This reference echoes the words of the psalmist's confession. After admitting in the previous verse that he is deserving of the sentence, he now begs for mercy, from the one who can give it.

1. Structural Diagram
2. Surrounding Context
3. Key Cross References
4. Key Questions
5. Thoughts and Meditation

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