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The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King – Follow Me

“The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, ‘He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.’ Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, ‘If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.’ Above him there was an inscription that read, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’ Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.’ The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, ‘Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied to him, ‘Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise’ (Luke 23:25-43).
In Old Testament times, the Jewish people sought a leader, a king, someone to shepherd the people and command the army. In Jesus’ time, they were looking for another king, a messiah, and some thought Jesus, a powerful speaker and worker of miracles, might be that king. But people tend to follow a leader only when they like where he’s going. When Jesus was multiplying loaves and healing the sick, huge crowds followed him. But as he came closer to Jerusalem and told more hard truths about discipleship and the reign of God and his own future, some turned away.
When he was arrested and brought before the court, many decided that Jesus wasn’t going where they wanted to go. It is an act of trust to follow someone. Not all leaders bring their people to success. The hecklers at the foot of the cross probably thought Jesus, as a leader, was a failure. The only way to save the situation was to somehow change direction and escape the cross. That was what one of the criminals suggested: Get off that cross, Jesus, and get us off these crosses too! Save yourself, and us!
Jesus said nothing, because it was not a mistake in direction that landed him at Golgotha. His whole life was leading to that cross and beyond it to the resurrection. He knew where he was going, and throughout Luke’s Gospel, we have accompanied Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem and the cross. Luke invites us to learn from Jesus, to make his experience our experience.
Isn’t that exactly what happens in the conversation between the other criminal and Jesus? “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” “Jesus, you’re leading…don’t leave me behind.” If we make that our prayer, we too can take comfort in Jesus’ reply, “Truly I tell you, this day you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42-43).
Remember that the criminal did not have the benefit of hindsight as we do—we know how the story ends. What faith is in his simply expressed pleas. We know that through our baptism we join with Jesus on the cross so we can also share in the glory of his resurrection.
– How do I trust that Jesus is leading me?
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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One Response to “The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King – Follow Me”

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