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Summary: Can human political systems save us? We elect national leaders, and are quickly disappointed. Let’s learn that only God’s government can truly bless humanity. Let’s contrast human governments and Christ’s government in Luke 23:33-43.

Can human political systems save us? We elect national leaders, and are quickly disappointed. Let’s learn that only God’s government can truly bless humanity. Let’s contrast human governments and Christ’s government in Luke 23:33-43.

Forgive Them

Luke 23:33-34 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do. And they divided His garments and cast lots.”

This is a remarkable saying, “Father forgive them.” The people didn’t know what they were doing. Do we forgive others only after they apologize, after repentance? Here Jesus teaches us a new level of forgiveness before repentance, before a change of heart, forgiveness because of a deed done in ignorance.

Taking versus Giving

Luke 23:35-39 And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” 38 And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”

At the cross, human leadership failed: Romans, Jews, and the Disciples. Jesus said: Father forgive them. Human leaders, in and out of the church will disappoint us. We do not know what we are doing. We say of the suffering Jesus, “Let him save himself.” Human governments are devouring beasts.

A bad leader (1 Samuel 8) will “TAKE your sons and appoint them for his own… TAKE your daughters… the best of YOUR fields… TAKE a tenth… And you will be his servants.”1 Luke’s Gospel describes Christ’s government, giving and forgiving. He gave his life and forgave our sins.

Remember Me

Luke 23:40-43 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” 43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Every generation starts moving into adult life about the same way, thinking that they can create a better world and do a better job than their parents or national leaders. By the time we reach middle age, optimism can turn to pessimism as we are forced to face humanity’s failures.

By the time we are old, we begin to see the reality of death. We learn that our generation too has NOT solved the world’s problems. We don’t need to fret or turn to pessimism and despair. Let’s learn to pray, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus conquered the gates of hell. He ushered in a new government, a forgiving government, forgiving those who planned his death. His government willingly sacrificed for all. His government forgave a criminal based on his attitude alone. We represent that eternal government every time we forgive and sacrifice for others.

A failure of human leadership is unwillingness to sacrifice for others. A failure of human society is unwillingness to forgive imperfect leaders. Jesus showed us the way by giving his life for all and forgiving all our sins. What are we willing to sacrifice? Who must we forgive?

New King James Version (NKJV) Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Readings

Jeremiah 23:1-6

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the Lord. 3 “But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4 I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the Lord. 5 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 6 In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

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