on his cross in the wilderness

They also led two other criminals to be executed with Jesus. When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.

The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Christ sent from God, the chosen one.”

The soldiers also mocked him. They came up to him offering him sour wine and saying, “If you really are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” Above his head was a notice of the formal charge against him. It read “This is the king of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:32-43 CEB)

I cannot read this passage without thinking of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13).

In the first wilderness temptation, the devil came to Jesus encouraging his relief from pain and hunger through bread. In the wilderness of the cross, Satan offers him sour wine to numb the pain.

In the first wilderness temptation, Satan came to Jesus and offered him every kingdom his eyes could see. In the wilderness of the cross, the Christ keeps his focus on his Father’s unseen kingdom and continues to lead dying men into it.

In the first wilderness temptation, the devil came to Jesus with the suggestion of acting on his own making a spectacle of himself. In the wilderness of the cross, the Christ remains dependent on his Father in prayer and despite the taunts of others, refuses to physically save himself.

In his victory over Satan in the first wilderness experience, Jesus resisted temptation to serve us with his life. On his cross in the wilderness, Jesus vanquished Satan, overcoming temptation and so, serving us by his death.

Jesus is the Christ; Jesus rules.

Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.