This week’s Bible study was entitled “Jesus as King” and focused on Luke 23. The reason that the church studied that topic this particular week is that next Sunday is Christ the King Sunday. Here are some items:
A. Even at his crucifixion, Jesus was king. Jesus did not stumble into his arrest and crucifixion but deliberately and willfully laid down his life out of love of his Father and us; Jesus was in control of the situation. At his trial and his crucifixion, Jesus’s enemies spoke the truth, albeit sarcastically. They sarcastically affirmed that Jesus saved others and was king of the Jews, so God’s truth was being proclaimed in this dark time. Jesus on the cross was able to extend membership in the Kingdom of God, as Jesus did to the malefactor on the cross. According to Luke, the Kingdom is wherever Jesus is, for, in Jesus, the Kingdom of God is in people’s midst (Luke 17:21). The Kingdom was present even when Jesus was on the cross. The pastor speculated that this may be why Matthew and Mark specify that one malefactor was on Jesus’s right and another on his left (Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27; see Luke 23:33): it is a reference to someone sitting at Jesus’s right and left hands in his Kingdom (Matthew 20:20-23; Mark 10:35-40).
B. Jesus told the malefactor on the cross, “Today you shall be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). There is, of course, the view that the malefactor went to heaven that very day and was with Jesus. The pastor, however, went through a more spiritual interpretation of Jesus’s statement. The malefactor’s confession of faith (however incomplete), Jesus’s word of assurance to him, and the presence of Jesus with the malefactor made the malefactor a Christian, and, due to that, the malefactor became part of the new creation, paradise, the Eden that Jesus was restoring in himself. Jesus said “Today” because that term has salvific import in the Bible: today is the day of salvation (II Corinthians 6:2; Isaiah 49:8).