(Editor’s note: This is seventh in a series leading to Easter.)
Pastor of Peabody Bible Church
The soldier noticed that many travelers to and from Jerusalem stopped to hurl words of contempt at Jesus. And he laughed when he realized that even the other crucified men were insulting Jesus.
He recognized that a group of Jewish officials appeared to be congratulating one another. Then they took turns addressing the crowd.
“He saved others, but cannot save himself.”
Another person sarcastically shouted, “If this king of Israel comes down from the cross, we could believe in him.”
Soldiers joined the taunting.
“If you are a king, save yourself.”
The soldier glanced at the other two crosses, now noticing that only one of the thieves was ridiculing Jesus. The silent one looked past Jesus toward the cursing man on the other cross.
“Don’t you fear God? We deserve this punishment, but this man has done nothing wrong.”
Looking at Jesus, he pleaded, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.”
“Truly I say to you,” Jesus said as he turned his head and looked at the thief, “today you shall be with me in paradise.”
Jesus looked into the crowd and stared, and the soldier turned to see a man with his arm around a weeping woman. She covered her mouth as if attempting to quiet deep sobs coming from her throat. The soldier turned to face Jesus when he heard Jesus speak. “Woman, behold your son.”
Jesus then looked at the man who was with the grieving woman and said, “Behold your mother.”