Luke 23:43 “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
The paradise that Jesus spoke of must have been the same place that Jesus called “Abraham’s bosom,” when He told the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus descended into the lower parts of the earth after His death, and John 20:17 shows that it was some time after His resurrection before Jesus ascended back to His Father. Therefore, this paradise was “Abraham’s bosom” located in “sheol” in the lower parts of the earth.
The phrase “led captivity captive” from Ephesians 4:8, refers to Jesus liberating the Old Testament saints. When Old Testament saints died, they went to a place in the center of the earth which is called “sheol” in Hebrew. It is the Hebrew word “sheol” that is translated “hell” in Psalm 16:10, which prophesies Jesus saying, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption“… Acts 2:27-30.
The ungodly dead also went to “sheol” but the teaching of Jesus in Luke 16:19-31 shows that there was a great gulf fixed between the two, and those in torment (hell) envied those who were enjoying the blessings of the Lord in the part of “sheol” that was called Abraham’s bosom or Paradise.
Even though these Old Testament saints were blessed, they were not able to enter into the presence of the Lord because the atonement of Christ had not been completed. So, in that sense, they were captives. When Jesus died, He descended into “sheol” and took the captives captive. He took them to heaven, into the very presence of God and vacated that part of “sheol.” Now, all that’s left in “sheol” is hell. In the New Testament, the Greek word that is used to refer to this area is “hades” and it is only applied to the place of torment.
Jesus Freed Us From Sin
Luke 23:18 “And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:”
What happened to Barabbas is a picture of what happens when a person is born again. Barabbas was guilty; Jesus was innocent. Yet Jesus suffered the death that Barabbas should have experienced, and Barabbas went free.
Likewise, we were all guilty… Romans 3:23, and condemned to death… Romans 6:23, yet Jesus suffered our punishment so that we may go free… 2 Corinthians 5:21. Just as Barabbas didn’t ask for this substitution, so “God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”… Romans 5:8.
Barabbas was freed, but he had to choose whether or not to accept this new start and remain free, or go back to his old ways and come under the judgment of Rome again. Likewise, we have all been freed through the substitutionary death of Jesus, but we have to choose whether to accept our freedom by putting faith in Jesus or to reject it, by denying Him.
Our death to sin and resurrection to life with Christ, is already a reality in our spirits but will only become a physical reality when we know and believe it. In the same way that Jesus died unto sin once, and death no longer has dominion over Him, the person who recognizes their death with Christ unto sin, will not allow sin to rule over him anymore. Any Christian who is struggling with sin has not recognized that they are dead unto sin.
Accept The Gift Of Forgiveness
Luke 23:34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
Forgiveness of sins is one of the great themes of the Bible. There is so much that scripture says about it that it would take volumes of books to adequately deal with the subject. It will suffice to say that the blood of Jesus is what provided us with forgiveness of sins. That sacrifice was so great that it outweighed all our sins. It covered all the sins of the world-past, present, and future.
Most Christians have the concept that the sins they committed before they professed faith in Christ are forgiven at salvation, but any sins that are committed after that time are not forgiven until they repent and ask for forgiveness. This is not the case.
All our sins: past, present, and future were forgiven through the one offering of Jesus. If God can’t forgive future sins, then none of us can be saved because Jesus only died once, nearly 2,000 years ago, before we had committed any sins. All our sins have been forgiven.
The forgiveness of our sins is not the ultimate goal of our salvation. It is just a necessary step. The real goal of salvation is relationship with the Father and sin is a barrier to that relationship. So, it had to be dealt with, and it was, through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who stop with the forgiveness of sins and don’t go on into eternal life are missing the heart of salvation. Our sins have been forgiven so that we may enter into intimacy with the Lord.
It is through the riches of God’s grace that we have received forgiveness for our sins. There is nothing we can do to obtain forgiveness except humble ourselves and receive forgiveness as a gift through faith in Christ.
Religious Pride Brings Dissention
Mark 15:10 “For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.”
The Jews were God’s chosen people and therefore, God’s representatives on earth. Yet, they lied and condemned an innocent man to death. Pilate could see that their real motivation for wanting Jesus dead was envy. They were doing all their religious works to be seen of men, and were upset that Jesus was getting more recognition than they were. If these Jews would have thought about what type of witness they were giving, even they would have known that their actions were not inspired by God.
We should remember that we are God’s witnesses on earth, or as Paul said, We are epistles… “known and read of all men:”…2 Corinthians 3:2. Judging our actions in the light of, “What kind of witness will this give to others?” will help us discern whether or not we are being led of God.
The chief priests had deceived themselves and other religious people into believing that they were condemning Jesus for godly reasons, but even an ungodly ruler like Pilate could see through their lies. Religious bondage blinds people to the truth even more than sin does.
These rulers wanted to retain their power and authority, so they fought against the power and authority of Jesus. This is still the same today. Men use doctrinal issues to disguise the real issue. The truth is that, “Only by pride cometh contention:”…Proverbs 13:10. People who love to have the preeminence… 3 John 9 are usually the instigators of persecution.
Choose to Love
John 18:23 “Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?”
God’s kind of love is not self-serving or self-seeking. Agape love will cause a person to lay down his life for another… John 15:13, because he has literally forgotten himself. Many times when heroes are asked why they put themselves in jeopardy to save someone else, they reply that they didn’t even think about themselves. All they thought of was the danger to the other person. That’s God’s kind of love.
God’s type of love involves emotions many times, but it is not an emotion. It is an act of the will. We can choose to love even when we don’t feel like it and we can always conduct ourselves in a godly manner, when we feel God’s kind of love. God’s kind of love is a choice.
God’s kind of love is also the antidote to selfishness and pride. We cannot conquer self by focusing on self. The only way to win over self is to fall in love with God more than with ourself. It is in discovering God’s love that we lose self love.
Jesus didn’t feel some emotional sensation when He chose to die for us, but that was the greatest demonstration of God’s kind of love that the world has ever seen. He made a choice in spite of His emotions. Because He was consumed with God’s love, He acted properly, even when His emotions didn’t agree.
Jesus is the ultimate example of God’s kind of love.
John 18:20 “Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.”
The truths of God are hidden for His children, not from them. The Holy Spirit has been instructed to teach us all things …John 14:26, and has given us an unction so that we will know all things 1 John 2:20. We only have to appropriate what is ours.
What God desires His New Testament saints to know, that the Old Testament saints could not know, is “Christ in you the hope of glory.” The coming of the Messiah was predicted in the Old Testament, but the idea that He would actually dwell in us was beyond anyone’s imagination. However, the New Testament is clear that Christ, by the Holy Spirit, takes up permanent residence in all believers. This is a wonderful truth that some fail to fully appreciate. Solomon said at the dedication of the temple, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” We could say, “How much less this physical body?” This is truly amazing!
The Lord’s commitment to dwell in us and never leave us or forsake us… Hebrews 13:5, must be taken as an indication of His great love for us. If we continually thought upon this, with all its implications, how could we ever be lonely or discouraged? We couldn’t! Depression and self-pity would cease!
Why would it matter what others thought of us if we truly understood how much Jesus thought of us?
Our attitudes and fears reveal that this revelation of “Christ in us” is not a well established revelation in most Christians. However, this verse makes it clear that our Father wants to make “the riches of the glory of this mystery” known unto us. We should all be seeking a greater revelation of this truth.
Luke 22:63-64 “And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?”
Here is the account of God’s own creation mocking and insulting His Son without Him intervening. The pain that this must have caused the Father defies description.
Those who struck Jesus and told Him to prophesy who it was that struck Him, must have taken Jesus’ silence as proof that He was not who He claimed to be.
The natural mind could not conceive that Almighty God would take this kind of abuse from His creation. But this was the plan of God.
Isaiah prophesied that, as a lamb before its shearers is dumb…Isaiah 53:7, so Jesus would not open His mouth. Isaiah also mentioned that Jesus “was taken from prison and from judgment” referring to the fact that He was not given a fair trial… Isaiah 53:8. Isaiah went on to prophesy in Isaiah 53:9 that Jesus would make “his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.” This was fulfilled when Jesus was crucified between two thieves and buried in a rich man’s tomb.
John 18:6 “As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.”
It is evident that it was the power of God that made these six hundred men fall backwards to the ground, but why did it happen when He said, “I am he”?
In this verse, and also in verse eight, the word “he” is italicized. That means that the word “he” was not in the original text but was added by the translators to make the sentence grammatically correct. This serves a useful purpose and is very helpful in most cases. However, the translators put these additions in italics so that we could be aware of what the text literally said.
In this instance, Jesus literally said, “I am.” Since Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, His statement of “I am,” carried just as much weight as when He expressed it to Moses… Exodus 3:14. This is nothing less than the Almighty God releasing His glory through the powerful statement, “I AM.” No wonder these men were knocked to the ground.
This graphically illustrates how Jesus could have easily defended Himself against any size army that would come to take His life. As He said in John 10:18, “No man taketh it (i.e. His life) from me, but I lay it down of myself.”
There are many instances recorded in scripture where people fell to the ground as a result of being in God’s presence. The same thing still happens today. Just as some people faint when they experience fear, when they experience the awesome presence of God, they become weak, and lose strength in their physical body.
Mark 14:41 “And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”
It is not our individual acts of sin that make us a sinner. It is our sin nature that makes us commit individual acts of sin. Adam’s one sin produced a sin nature in all men that in turn, caused each person to commit individual acts of sin. Jesus not only dealt with the original sin that contaminated the human race, but He also dealt with each individual act of sin.
Anyone who is trying to obtain righteousness through their actions is totally missing the point. Believers are made righteous through faith in Christ, independent of their actions. It’s the same way that everyone was made a sinner: through Adam’s one sin, not through our individual sins.
At salvation, our old man, Romans 6:6, or sin nature died, but the tendency to sin remains in the thoughts and emotions that the old man left behind. No longer does the Christian have a sin nature that compels him to sin, but he must simply deal with renewing his mind.
Sin ruled like a king through condemnation to bring death upon everyone.
Condemnation is like the general of sin that enforces its power. Likewise, God’s grace now rules like a king through righteousness to bring all who are in Christ into eternal life. Righteousness is the general of grace who defends us against all the wiles of the devil.
Remove guilt or condemnation and sin loses it’s strength to rule… 1 Corinthians 15:56. Remove the knowledge of righteousness by faith, and grace loses its power to release eternal life into our daily lives.