When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”


Luke 23:33-38


Who crucified Jesus? When looking at Rembrandt’s painting of The Three Crosses, your attention is drawn first to the cross on which Jesus died. Then as you look at the crowd gathered around the foot of that cross, you are impressed by the various facial expressions and actions of the people involved in the awful crime of crucifying the Son of God. Finally, your eyes drift to the edge of the painting to catch sight of another figure, almost hidden in the shadows. Some art critics say this is a representation of Rembrandt himself, for he recognized that by his sins he helped nail Jesus to the cross.


It is simple to say Christ died for the sins of the world. It is quite another to say Christ died for my sins. It is a shocking thought that we can be as indifferent as Pilate, as scheming as Caiaphas, as callous as the soldiers, as ruthless as the mob, or as cowardly as the disciples. It wasn’t just what they did – it was I who nailed Him to the tree. Each of us crucified the Christ of God.


Place yourself in the shadows with Rembrandt. You too are standing there. Remember that Christ died for us on that cross, and because of Christ, we are forgiven.


The cross of Christ reveals the love of God at its best

and the sin of the world at its worst.


Our Daily Bread – April 10, 2009