Luke 23:33-43 The only way to destroy the works of the devil is not to hate, but to practice mercy

Luke 23:33-43 The only way to destroy the works of the devil is not to hate, but to practice mercy

33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. 34 But Jesus was saying, Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. 35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” 38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, “ THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Background

Pilate caved in to the demands of the Jews and delivered Jesus over to them even though He is innocent. That said, the devil’s endgame is not to destroy Jesus’s mortal body but to push Him beyond the limits of His faith in God and His mercy towards His cold-blooded tormentors. But Jesus’s response to the mockery and torment of the people is mercy and His magnanimity touches even the vilest of criminals. Today’s devotion teaches us: The only way to destroy the works of the devil is not to hate, but to practice mercy.

Observation

Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing

In the thick of His affliction, Jesus showed mercy and entreated the Father to forgive His torturers. For the soldiers who cast lots, while dividing up His garments among themselves, and the people who looked on,… all did it in ignorance. At the cross, Jesus fought that final battle against the power of sin, of vengeance and hatred… His fleshly nature rises up urging Him to destroy His tormentors. Jesus’s decision to forgive and die while letting His tormentors live destroyed the power of sin and death on humanity’s behalf. The devil’s endgame is not to ensure the destruction of Jesus’s mortal body, but to push Jesus beyond the limits of His faith in God and His mercy towards His murderers. The devil’s intention is to defeat God by inciting Jesus to hate thus robbing Him of His rightful name: the Lamb of God… who takes away the sins of the world! (John 1:29).

If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!

It is the devil’s plan to fan into flame the throes of indignation, an attempt to incite Jesus to destroy the very people He is sent to save. Hidden in the devil’s ridicule is the temptation for Jesus to justify Himself before His tormentors. But the Father’s plan is to justify His Son through the resurrection. The temptation to prove Himself is heightened by the mockeries of shame coupled with the compulsion to bring all evil to a sudden end. The devil’s strategy is to deceive Jesus into saving Himself. In which He disqualifies Himself as the perfect Lamb and loses His place at the righthand of God.

Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!

Ignorance blinds people from the truth, and compulsion causes them to play into the devil’s trap. Jesus’s righteous and magnanimous composure touched even the hardened criminal who offered a wholehearted confession of Jesus’s righteousness and divinity, something even the disciples could not do. The criminal acknowledged his just punishment and Christ’s unjust treatment: And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong. He also acknowledged Jesus as the Saviour, who holds the power to forgive sinners: Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom! Jesus, upon hearing his confession of faith made him righteous and secured for him a place in paradise.

Truth

The only way to destroy the works of the devil is not to hate, but to practice mercy. 

The only way to destroy the devil and his works is to exercise mercy and righteousness. The same applies… that the sure way for man to destroy himself is to act out of hatred. Like a train of dominoes, hatred has a knock on effect that spreads out like cancer. Hence, the devil’s strategy is not to hurt the body which is temporal, but to destroy man’s spirit through hatred. Physical hurt cannot spread or propagate itself without hatred. And the devil’s strategy to destroy the world is to incite vengeance through hatred. Everything that the devil threw at Jesus on that day is aimed at infecting His soul with hatred and doubt. However, Jesus’s decision to exercise mercy destroys the power of sin and death forever.

Many people are trapped by the burden of justice which spawns hatred and vengeance. However, justice belongs to God who alone judges the world with righteous judgment. And God entrusts authority to governors who are tasked to enforce law and order in the society. But mercy and forgiveness is the mainstay of every man if he wants to be forgiven by God. Hence, the best policy is to leave the burdens of justice to God while remaining at peace with all men. And that was precisely what Jesus did when He breathed those heart wrenching words, Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” What Jesus did on that day in full view of all creation sealed the demise of the devil on humanity’s behalf.

A Spirit-controlled temperament is the best defence and offence against the devil’s attacks. 

An impetuous character is complicit to all conflicts and confusion. A thoughtless act can undo years of hard work and trust. The people’s sneerings and mockeries attempted to undo what Jesus has done for the last 33 years of His life and to forever put to nought the hope of man’s salvation. But Jesus maintained a Spirit-filled composure as His sure defence and offence. That not only secured man’s salvation but the fateful destruction of the devil’s kingdom.

The trouble with people is the lack of self-control. And that resulted in irreparable lost and damage to their reputation and resources. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we learn to hold our horses until compulsion fades into peace and divine wisdom. In every situation, God is in control and has a divine plan that requires our cooperation. By staying composed, we can better discern and understand the will of God. Therefore, James taught believers to always be circumspective and not to be impetuous,

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20

Our security and future is not for us to keep, it is God’s. Hence, we must listen to His instructions and maintain our trust in Him.

Application

Are you harbouring incidents of disappointments and hurt and could not let them go? Make a decision to break free from the chains of bitterness and unforgiveness. The real question is: are you prepared to do what it takes to mature and to realise God’s perfect plans for your life? If you are, you need to take the route of forgiveness and leave the past behind. Unforgiveness crumbles the soul. It stifles creativity and robs you of eternal life and glory.

Are you constantly giving in to the urge to react to every situation and to right every wrong? Learn to distant yourself from the situation, and see things from God’s perspective. In doing so, you give opportunity for God to work His perfect will through your circumstance.

Dear Lord, I declare that nothing can separate me from the love of God… neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor any other created thing. I forgive those who have hurt me and will not take matters into my own hands. I pray for their sanctification and salvation. I believe that justice is yours and you will bring it to pass. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

 


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