MATTHEW 27:39-44
Pp Mark 15:29-32, Luke 23:35-39

Origin and temptation
What does satan use?
The robbers

Matthew’s preliminary observations (Mtw 27:35-37) have all taken place, it would seem, during the first few minutes of Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross. The writer now turns his attention specifically to deal with the mocking which was directed at Jesus between the third hour when He was crucified (Mark 15:15 - somewhere between 8-9am) and the sixth hour when darkness descended over the land (Mtw 27:45 - from 11am). Luke 23:38-43 also records the response of one of the thieves after both of them has mocked Jesus (Mtw 27:44) and, though this isn’t contained within Matthew’s Gospel or even so much as hinted at, I’ll deal very briefly with the incident at the end of this web page.

As I’ve said previously, Psalm 22 is pivotal for a correct understanding of what Jesus went through on the cross - the psalm both begins with a verse which Jesus used on the cross (Ps 22:1, Mtw 27:46) and ends with a phrase that announces the triumphant work’s completion (Ps 22:31, John 19:29). It’s rightly been called by some commentators ‘the fifth Gospel’ for, in it, the reader gains a prophetic insight into the feelings and emotions which Jesus appears to have experienced on the cross, ending with the knowledge that God has brought salvation to His people.

Firstly, Mtw 27:39 speaks about those who passed by (a clear indication that the site of Golgotha was close to a regularly used pathway) deriding Jesus with their words (the word is actually ‘blasphemed’ which has implications for the disciple more than the RSV’s rendering of the word with ‘derided’) and ‘wagging their heads’, this last phrase appearing in Ps 22:7 where the psalmist observes that

‘All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads...’

The RSV seems to have deliberately used the word ‘wag’ in both places that the reader might not miss the allusion to derision and mockery paralleled in the OT. Just whether the head was shaken from side to side or up and down and whether it could be used on its own without words to accompany it is uncertain, but it appears to have been one of those cultural actions that survived a long time within Israelite society. The idea also appears in II Kings 19:21 where YHWH speaks concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria - though the words seem to be directed more at the entire nation than simply the figure of the king - that

‘...She despises you, she scorns you - the virgin daughter of Zion. She wags her head behind you - the daughter of Jerusalem’

where the first two descriptions should be taken as parallels of the action which follows. Such imagery occurs several times in the OT (for example, Ps 109:25, Job 16:4, Lam 2:15) and the idea appears to be one of mockery - though especially of the unrighteous deriding the righteous.

Paralleled also is Mtw 27:43 which records one of the statements of the chief priests as they, no doubt, talked amongst themselves loudly so that Jesus could hear from the cross. It reasons

‘He trusts in God; let God deliver Him now, if He desires Him; for He said ‘I am the Son of God’’

paralleled in Ps 22:8 where David writes

‘He committed his cause to YHWH; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him!’

and there may also be a direct parallel with Ps 22:12-13 and 42:3,10. One might have expected the wicked to have passed by and to have ridiculed Jesus - even those Jerusalemites who’d heard reports of Jesus but had never experienced the power of God in people’s lives bringing healing and deliverance and who erred on the side of caution (or cynicism), believing the official pronouncement on the matter - but surely not the religious leaders (Mtw 27:41)!

I will have more to say on this matter below as we look at the types of things which satan uses in mockery of the children of God, but we shouldn’t run away from the clear statement in the Scriptures that the religious leaders took great delight in the downfall of the righteous before God - and neither should we think that, in the present day, matters would be any different.

It’s the same world into which the disciples of Jesus go out - and the same reactions which they reap as they seek to bring the Gospel into the society in which they find themselves. It shouldn’t be surprising when God’s people are oppressed and persecuted by those who sit as self-appointed authorities over what they consider as being part of the affairs of God Himself.

This may come as a shock to some readers, but it’s one of the themes of the Gospels - that those in positions of authority over the people of God are the ones who radically oppose the message which is brought and the deeds which are being performed in their midst.

Origin and temptation

It’s interesting to take the sort of mockery which Jesus faced on the cross and to parallel it with the temptation in the wilderness which occurred at the outset of Jesus’ ministry to Israel (Mtw 4:1-11) for there are a few similarities which are immediately obvious.

Twice, satan came to Jesus and began his temptation with the words (Mtw 4:3,6)

‘If You are the Son of God...’

trying to tempt Him into demonstrating His Sonship outside the clearly perceived will of the Father. While it was true that Jesus was God’s Son, the manner in which Jesus might demonstrate that Sonship was defined and controlled by the mission which Jesus had been given to perform on earth.

When we looked at the trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, where the high priest used the title ‘Son of God’ in his questioning, I noted that

‘Upto this point in the Gospel of Matthew, the title “Son of God” had only been put upon Him by the devil (Mtw 4:3,6), the demonic (Mtw 8:29) and the disciples after the miraculous sign of walking on the water (Mtw 14:33)’

and that, now that Jesus is forced into responding to the question because of the adjuration to testify, He carefully replies by removing the reference to His divine Sonship, replacing it, rather, with the title ‘Son of Man’, to emphasise ‘humanity enthroned’.

But there was also a good reason here for doing so which lay in the concept which the title ‘Son of God’ conjured up in the minds of those present. For them, the Son of God was one who was an all-conquering King, whose supremacy none could withstand or oppose without immediate reprisals and judgment. Jesus quite obviously didn’t fit their own concept of the title so that, instead of reformulating their erroneous understanding of the Person who was to come, they rejected the One who was the perfect embodiment of who the Father was.

It’s this similar type of concept in the words now recorded from the mouths of those who mock Jesus that cause them to use the phraseology they did. For, to them, it was inconceivable that the true Son of God should allow Himself to be crucified by the hands of men and women which, it has to be said, He created.

So, the passers by taunt Jesus to come down from the cross by prefixing their mocking with the words (Mtw 27:40)

‘If You are the Son of God...’

and the chief priests, scribes and elders also call on Him to save Himself from the fate which has now come upon Him (Luke 23:35 - at the instigation of themselves, it has to be said)

‘...if He is the Christ of God, His Chosen One’

where Matthew records something similar being spoken (Mtw 27:42-43) and the claim which they put into Jesus’ mouth that He was the Son of God. As I’ve said above, this was a purely fictitious charge in the sense that it seems unlikely that they were dwelling only on the minority of what He’d said. It’s quite true that the fourth Gospel shows the reader that there were times when a public declaration of Jesus’ Sonship was made (John 1:34) and when Jesus Himself used the title to teach the Jews (John 5:18, 5:25, John 10:36) but, for the majority of His time, Jesus chose rather to proclaim Himself as the Son of man for it emphasised the nature of His mission better than the title ‘Son of God’ (I will say a few more words about this title in the next section).

The Roman soldiers also perceive the irony of the charge placed over Jesus’ head that He’s the King of the Jews by appealing to Him (Luke 23:37) that

‘...If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’

and one of the two criminals is also recorded as mockingly asking Him (Luke 23:39)

‘Are you not the Christ?’

before his declaration that Jesus should demonstrate the truth of the statement and

‘Save yourself and us!’

Both in the wilderness before satan and on the cross, the word ‘if’ figures prominently and, even when it isn’t being directly used, the conditional nature of the statements being made is clear for all to see. Each of these begins with or includes a supposition that’s true but which, if proved true by the One being taunted, becomes the point at which the will of the Father is rebelled against.

It was only in the cross that perfect Sonship was being demonstrated and, if that Sonship was now revoked for the sake of proving to the onlookers what they were expecting, the Son becomes less of the person that God wants Him to be and more like the person that men and women expect Him to be - and that means less like the character of God, a fallen man.

It would, perhaps, be going too far to state unequivocally that the temptation thus hurled at Jesus was satanic in origin but it certainly holds the characteristics of the sort of temptation which Jesus experienced after forty days in the wilderness. We know from Mtw 15:19 that what is opposed to God comes from within a man and we shouldn’t marvel at the depths to which man will stoop in his rejection of the image of God, but the type of temptation here is so close to what we would expect to come from satan that we may be correct in attributing them to him.

In the wilderness, satan confronted Jesus face to face in order to tempt Him away from being obedient to the will of the Father. On the cross, satan uses a subtler approach by inspiring the words of men to tempt Him into taking His destiny into His own hands.

But what exactly was this temptation? What was it that satan was trying to do?

Each of the four groups of people are attributed with the same appeal to Jesus. The passers by (Mtw 27:40) implore Jesus to

‘ Yourself...’

in words which are identical to both the soldiers (Luke 23:37) and one of the robbers crucified alongside Him (Luke 23:39 - though he adds the ironical ‘and us!’). The religious leaders (Mtw 27:42) also announce

‘He saved others - He cannot save Himself!’

to one another where the ‘salvation’ here spoken about should be taken as referring to the deliverance of the demonic and the healing of the sick which they were dubious about anyway (for example, Mtw 9:34). This temptation, therefore, as we saw above, was to step down from the cross and to move outside the will of the Father (Mtw 26:39).

We must remember that this was a very real temptation along the same lines as one of those in the wilderness (Mtw 4:9), of receiving the crown without the suffering of the cross. Jesus certainly could have used the resources of Heaven to be delivered from the ordeal (Mtw 26:53), though the real ordeal wasn’t to begin until the sixth hour (Mtw 27:45). He could even have exercised His divinity - but to do so would have been contrary to His role as the Servant of mankind. The cross must come before the Victor’s crown.

The leaders’ taunt (Mtw 27:42)

‘He saved others - He cannot save Himself!’

was ironically true in some respects. He’d saved others because of His deep love for them - but He could not save Himself from the cross because of His great love for mankind. If He’d taken the option of self-deliverance, mankind would never have had the opportunity to be reconciled back into a full relationship with God. Matmor also sees a paradox here when thinking about the mockery of those who were alleging Him to be the Son of God. He writes that

‘They said they would have believed He was the Son of God had He come down from the cross. We believe He was the Son of God because He stayed up’

Following Jesus, therefore, is not only accepting Jesus acting within one’s own concept of who He is but accepting whatever He does even when He goes beyond an individual’s understanding.

About a week before I wrote this article, I was briefly chatting with someone on a chat facility on the Internet and was trying to get across what the will of satan was in all this. To the other person, satan’s aim was to put Jesus to a physical death and very little more but, as far as I see it, satan would have accomplished absolutely nothing had he done so and, although I don’t want to give too much credit to him, I do think that he had the intellect to realise that, once a man had lived perfectly before God and had breathed his last, there would finally have been someone who would have succeeded where Adam had failed, maintaining individual authority over satan and being able to exercise absolute authority over the entire Creation (Gen 1:26,28).

The last thing, therefore, satan wanted to do was for Jesus to die physically. But he did want Jesus to die spiritually as a result of His own wrongdoing and thereby elevate his own authority back over mankind - that was his whole intention in the temptation in the wilderness (see my notes on this passage on especially under the header ‘Jesus the Man’).

What Jesus accomplished, then, was to raise humanity to where it had originally meant to be - as co-ruler of Creation with absolute dominion over the Created order. This needs a separate discussion to show what Jesus achieved, how and why, and the reader is directed to my notes on this web page where I’ve dealt with these Creation issues under the header ‘Man - Created to Rule’ in Part 2 section 3).

What does satan use?

In the last section, we looked at the origin of the temptation which Jesus experienced, what that temptation was and why it represented a danger to the work of the cross through an attempt at trying to have Jesus move outside the will of God for His life and into an image which those present expected the Messiah to be.

We saw that the type of temptation was very similar to that which satan used on Jesus in the wilderness at the very outset of His ministry and that it’s probably not going too far to interpret the temptation on the cross as being satanic in origin.

Here, we go on from that to consider what it was that satan used in order to tempt Jesus and, subsequently, what believers should also be aware of as ready sources of temptation which they might encounter.

Firstly, then, there was ignorance - the passages abound in demonstrations of such. The passers by misquote one of Jesus’ sayings which He spoke within the Temple (Mtw 27:40 Cp John 2:19) as they did at the Jewish trial before Caiaphas in Mtw 26:61 through both an ignorance of what was actually said and, if they had heard Him pronounce the words, through a misunderstanding of the content of His statement.

It was the ignorance of who the Messiah would be that ultimately caused the Jews to deliver Jesus to be crucified (Acts 3:17) and, as I’ve noted when we came to the trial (Mtw 26:57-68), the concept of the title ‘Son of God’ on the high priest’s lips was different to that which Jesus would have intended had He also described Himself as such, choosing, rather, to proclaim Himself as ‘Son of man’ (Mtw 26:63-64).

It was also the ignorance of the truth which provoked Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem (Acts 21:20-21,28-29) in the way that they attributed Paul with teaching Jews to renounce the Jewish traditions and in bringing Gentiles into the Temple Courts (the court of Israel) where only Jews were permitted to go. God Himself describes His people in Jer 4:22a by stating that they

‘...are foolish, they know Me not; they are stupid children, they have no understanding’

and, in Hosea 4:1,6, YHWH says that He has

‘...a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no...knowledge of God in the land...My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...’

Even though there must have been a testimony to God within Israel and Judah at that time and, in the southern Kingdom of Judah especially there would have been the offering of sacrifice according to the Mosaic Law within the Temple, yet the nation didn’t really know God. They had some ideas and some principles but a truthful knowledge of God was lacking even though they were people who both professed to know God and who confessed His name. Ultimately, this lack of the knowledge of God led God’s people astray into all kinds of evil (Jer 4:22b, Hosea 4:2 - both consequences upon the nation’s lack of knowledge) and ultimately ending in their destruction.

But knowledge is a necessary requirement for a believer and he’s encouraged (II Peter 1:5) to

‘...make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge’

and to learn from those things which have already occurred and which have been written down that the believer might learn (Rom 15:4). Nowhere do we read that a disciple of Jesus should be ‘super-intelligent’ or that it’s a necessary requirement for salvation, but to stay ignorant after coming to experience the saving work of Jesus is without excuse - though each to his or her own level of capacity.

Knowledge, however, is that which comes by a revelation from the Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:20-21, John 14:26) often through the reading, studying and meditating upon the Scriptures. But satan uses both ignorance and misunderstanding to turn people’s hearts away from a pure devotion to and acceptance of Jesus Christ and, as we now go on to look at the second thing which he uses, it’s often in the lives of the religious.

Notice this, for it’s very easy to gloss over in the text and to consign the statement (Mtw 27:41) that it was the

‘...chief priests, with the scribes and elders...’

who ridiculed Jesus to a class of people who no longer exist or who, if they do, are certainly not a part of our own fellowship (Mattask sees them as being representative of the Sadducees but the threefold description is a summation of the members of the Sanhedrin who would have had leading Pharisees amongst them - see my charts and notes). But these were the leaders of God’s people, the men who were charged with the oversight and spiritual welfare of the nation of Israel and the parallel can’t be much plainer for today’s Church unless I was to spell it out letter by letter in bold capitals.

It was religion which had condemned Jesus as deserving death (Mtw 26:66) - not only did He not fit in with their concept of the Messiah, but they grew jealous of Him because He was fast becoming more popular than they themselves were (Mtw 27:18).

Their religion was all external (for example, Mtw 23:5-7,23,25-26) even though it looked good on the outside, and their fear of God (Is 29:13) was

‘...a commandment of men learned by rote’

In the early Church, religion was the main problem in the form of the converts from Judaism, the ‘circumcision party’, who attempted to bind the Gentiles into a legalistic observance before they could be saved (for example, Acts 15:1-6, Galatians chapters 3-5 - esp 3:1-5, 5:2-12). But also the religious Jews who attempted to destroy the advance of the Kingdom at every opportunity (Acts 4:1-3,17-18, 5:17-18,28,33,40, 7:58, 14:2, 17:5, 18:12-13).

Satan uses religion to bind the progression of the Church in society, bringing legislation to restrict the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It’s been the downfall of many revivals of the past for, once the Church begins to legislate, it loses the free-flowing water of the Spirit of God amongst them.

It was these two aspects of the mockers, then - both ignorance and religion - which served as fertile beds for the ridicule which Jesus suffered. We must remember that both have been characteristic of many of the revivals of yesteryear where a move of God is condemned either because what’s happening is misunderstood or misinterpreted or because the unbending legislation of the religious and the quest for personal power and glory has not allowed those in authority from letting God have free reign in their midst.

Mattask summarises the types of people who mock Jesus under three headings as

‘...ignorant sinners, religious sinners and condemned sinners’

and, although I’ve divided up the first two definitions above to refer to the passers by and the chief priests respectively, they bleed over into each of the groups, for the passers by would, no doubt, have contained Jews who believed in YHWH and who practised service towards God as defined in the Scriptures while the chief priests were just as ignorant of the type of Messiah Jesus was as the former.

His third group - the condemned sinners (referring to the two crucified on either side of Jesus) - also fall into both descriptions for, as they were possibly zealots, they would have had their own religious expectation of a liberation of their land from under Roman occupation but, equally so, failed to perceive the need for the Suffering servant.

In this way, the characteristics of the mockers fall mainly under the labels of ‘ignorant’ and ‘religious’ which we’ve discussed above.

Finally, we may note a passage in the Apocrypha where the wicked are given a voice and speak concerning a similar situation to that in which Jesus found Himself. We’ve taken the title ‘Son of God’ to be representative of a claim of divine Sonship - and so it is - and can note in John 5:18 (my italics) the comment of the author there that

‘This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the sabbath but also called God His Father, making Himself equal with God

But, In Wisdom chapter 2, the wicked refer to the righteous man by stating (2:13) that

‘...he calleth himself the child of the Lord’

and (2:16) that he

‘...maketh his boast that God is his father...’

Although this is hardly likely to be an original quote of the ‘wicked’ and more likely to be a literary composition of what’s going through the ungodly’s mind, it does show us that making oneself out to be a child of God did not necessarily imply divinity but that it was taken this way by the religious leaders who sought to condemn Him.

That the disciples also understood divinity to be included in their declaration of the title is fairly certain (Mtw 16:16) but there was another way of taking it that the Apocrypha records for us here. Not only this, but Wisdom chapter 2 hints at a reason for the persecution of Jesus by the wicked - that is, all those who were gathered against Him to have Him put to death.

The wicked reason (2:12)

‘...let us lie in wait for the righteous; because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings: he upbraideth us with our offending the law...’

a charge which could equally well have been levelled at Jesus. But it doesn’t stop here for the writer goes on to record the thoughts of the ungodly directed towards the righteous as complaining (2:13-20) that

‘He professeth to have the knowledge of God: and he calleth himself the child of the Lord. He was made to reprove our thoughts. He is grievous unto us even to behold: for his life is not like other men’s, his ways are of another fashion. We are esteemed of him as counterfeits: he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness: he pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed, and maketh his boast that God is his father. Let us see if his words be true: and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him. For if the just man be the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies...Let us condemn him with a shameful death: for by his own saying he shall be respected’

One can’t help but read these words and think that in a very real manner they reflect the reasoning of those who had contrived against Jesus - that, even though a righteous man may be considered to have been a child of God and that God was in some special way his father, they took it in a way which gave them grounds to oppose Him.

Truly, the wicked are deceitful and, if we take this passage as a fair reflection of the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ condemnation, we see that their hatred of what was right was the cause of them opposing the One who was perfectly right.

The robbers
Mtw 27:38,44, Mark 15:27(-28),32, Luke 23:32-33,39-43, John 19:18

I’ve included this section only to note that some would argue that there’s a discrepancy in the accounts of Matthew and Mark with that of Luke in their dealing with the two robbers who were crucified along with Jesus. Mtw 27:44 (Cp Mark 15:32) states plainly that

‘...the robbers who were crucified with Him also reviled Him in the same way’

whereas Luke records no such thing and turns his attention simply to one of them and the retaliation of the other in his defence of Jesus (Luke 23:39-43). Matmor suggests (though this doesn’t appear to be his position) that

‘...Matthew may be referring to only one of the criminals crucified with Him...This may be an example of the plural used in the NT for one person or thing in both a Semitic and a normal Greek manner...’

but it seems best to reason that, as the first two Gospel accounts recognise, Jesus was mocked by both robbers early on but that one realised the truth of who Jesus was and turned around his assessment to one that was a positive acceptance. Matmor speaks of this robber as a man who

‘...impressed by the way Jesus bore it all, repented and found forgiveness’

and this certainly seems to be the best option. It’s probably not right to conjecture too much here, but I began wondering whether the robber have come to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah had not the Lord’s Servant been there to give forgiveness of sins. And what twist of fate had there been in him being chosen to die by crucifixion, yet finding life through that method of execution that he would have been dreading?

The disciple of Christ must remember that suffering and persecution sometimes has its own rewards that are unperceived as one enters the trial. We could call the salvation of the robber a ‘bonus’ but it was probably more than this - the same Hand which had guided Jesus through the trials that day and onto the cross to suffer for the sins of mankind was the same as the One that contrives situations that all men may be reached with the message of the Gospel.

The believer must also realise that the way a person comes to acknowledge Jesus can be remarkably different to that which we expect. Many fellowships would have the recipient raise their hands or pray a ‘sinner’s prayer’ - some even insist that baptism in water is a necessity for salvation and that, without it, a man cannot be saved. But none of these occurred here.

The robber seems to have simply recognised something in Jesus that made Him realise that what He’d heard about Him (or, perhaps, even seen in Him) was true - or how would he have been able to have asked Him to (Luke 23:42)

‘...remember me when You come into Your Kingdom’

And what sort of concept did he have of what he’d just done? It’s impossible to believe that he perceived that the reason Jesus was there was to provide a way for man to be reconciled back to God - besides, the work of securing the forgiveness of sins wasn’t yet to begin (Luke 23:44) though the robber did die after it had been completed (John 19:32).

While I’m not saying that a man can come into a right relationship with God devoid of the work of the cross, the believer must realise that a response to what a person sees of Jesus may be all that’s sufficient to lead that person to the point of realising their own unworthiness before God (Luke 23:41) and of petitioning God directly to forgive them.

And all without the need for preachers of the Gospel!

A person who responds to the presence of and revelation from God will certainly be led to know more but, for the robber on the cross, there was no time for this, no time for the development of communion with God.

The preaching of the Gospel is important to get out into all the world - but we must also allow for the possibility that God will move outside of the traditional conversion methodology and see God as able to go beyond our own structures and save those who might not otherwise be reached.

The reader who wishes to understand more about the concept of ‘Paradise’ which Jesus here mentions should refer to my notes under the heading ‘Paradise’ and how it fits into the overall Biblical teaching on the dwelling places of the dead.

Finally, I’ve reproduced the lyrics of a song with kind permission from the author. Who would have ever imagined to take the story of the dying thief and turned it into a proclamation of the Gospel? But this is exactly what Don Francisco did many years ago, combining all three accounts of the robbers into a story which conjectures the reason for the robber’s change of heart.

And they just don’t write songs like this anymore...

Too Small A Price
by Don Francisco

I awoke to hear the jailer turn the key and push the door
‘Get out here!’ he shouted, but I stayed there on the floor
Frozen in the terror that rose and filled my brain
I knew what they intended; I could not face the pain

Then soldiers came into the cell and dragged me to the yard
They threw me down before a cross and brought the whip down hard
‘Carry it!’ they shouted, as I struggled to my feet
I put my shoulder under it; dragged it to the street

I stumbled through a wall of screams as they drove me through the gate
It seemed that thousands lined the streets, their voices filled with hate
Like a wolf pack in the night that moves in for the kill
They closed the gap and followed us as we started up the hill

And it seemed I’d barely reached the top when they grabbed me from behind
They threw the cross down under me and tied the ropes that bind
The arms close to the beams as they nailed the feet and hands
And they raised the cross up in the air and dropped it in it’s stand

Through a blur of pain I saw the cross there next to mine
There were people all around it so I looked to read the sign
It was nailed there up above His head so the world could see the news
That the man who seemed so helpless there was the King of all the Jews

The crowd that stood around His cross made jokes about His name
They shouted, laughed and spat on Him so I joined in the game
I said, ‘Hey! If You’re the King why don’t You get us down from here?
The taunt just sounded hollow and it echoed in my ears

Cos He looked at me with eyes that seemed to reach into my heart
They shone a light on all my lies and tore my life apart
There was more that lay behind His gaze than simply blood and clay
But knowing was too much for me; I had to look away

Then I chanced another look at Him as He was looking down
Where the soldiers who’d just crucified us drank there on the ground
And although He spoke them quietly, somehow His words came through
He said ‘Father, please forgive them; they don’t know what they do’

Then as if they’d heard Him speak, the crowd began to roar
Whipped to frenzy by the priests who urged them on to more
But the worse the accusations, now, the plainer I could see
The guilt of the accusers - not the One there next to me

Then the man upon the other cross began to curse and swear
But his voice was filled with venom as he hurled it through the air
When all the horror that was in him and had laid his life to waste
Came out in every syllable he flung in Jesus’ face

And Jesus only looked at him, but something rose inside of me
And in spite of all that watched us there, it couldn’t be denied
Because His righteousness and innocence were shining bright and strong
I just couldn’t keep my silence and that cursing still went on

I cried out, ‘Don’t you fear the wrath of God even at the end?
You’ll curse us both into the pit - is that what you intend?
We’re only getting what we’re due - we’ve sinned our whole lives long
But don’t you talk to Him that way - He’s done nothing wrong!’

Then with all my courage, in a voice not quite my own
I asked Him ‘Lord, remember me when you come into Your throne’
He answered me and, even then, His love was undisguised
He said ‘Before the sun has set today, you’ll be with Me in Paradise’

Well the shouts and curses did not stop even when the sunlight ceased
But somehow in the midst of it, my soul had been released
And though the agony continued, it was still too small a price
To be allowed to hear those words, and to die beside the Christ!

All song lyrics copyrighted by Crack O’ Noon studios
Used with permission from the author
Web site located at