Advent Day 18: Luke 23:32-43

Today’s Advent reading is Luke 23:32-43. (Click the link to open the passage in a new window).

How far does God’s love go?

I have a hard time conceiving of unconditional love. It is too abstract. In today’s passage, we see the heart-wrenching extent of God’s love.

Jesus is Immanuel — God with us. His birth is worthy of our joyful celebration.

Generally speaking, we celebrate the birth of children because we envision a good life for them. But when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we know that he already had in mind a terrifying end: his shameful, agonizing death amongst criminals.

In this passage, we see bitter mockery. The people cannot imagine that a man suffering agony on the cross is the Messiah — though before their eyes, he is fulfilling Isaiah 53:12:

he willingly submitted to death,
and was counted among the rebels;
yet he bore the sin of many
and interceded for the rebels.

Though the crowd insults him, Jesus offers them a blessing.

Though the soldiers torture him, he prays for their forgiveness.

Though the criminals see themselves as getting what they deserve, Jesus promises paradise to the one who reaches out in faith.

Who among us would choose another life, if we knew it would end like this?

Obituaries, not baby showers, are usually the time to bring together someone’s birth and death date. On the tombstone, the dates are separated with a simple line.

But Jesus is different. His death shows us the fullness of love intended in his birth. A plan that was hidden for ages is now revealed (Ephesians 3:8-11)!

Personal Reflection and Community Discussion Questions:

  1. Why is Jesus’ birth such good news?

  2. In his death, Jesus brought a condemned criminal with him to paradise. How does this assure your heart of God’s love for you?

You are encouraged to share other reflections on these passages.

You can find this week’s Advent 2021 readings here:

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