The church’s teaching about Jesus is that he is fully human and fully God.
He is not half human and half God.
So, mathematically it doesn’t add up as he is 100% human and 100% God – at the same time.
Throughout his life in the bible we see examples of both his humanity and his divinity at work at the same time.
He is born as all humans are – by an earthly mother.
He is born however without a human father, as we confess, “he was conceived by the Holy Spirit”.
He undergoes Baptism as all humans are asked to do even though he is God and at the same time the voice from Heaven declares – this is my Son.
He undergoes circumcision as part of the law of Abraham.
He shows human emotions – he weeps when he sees his dear friend Lazarus dead in the grave even though he declares to be the resurrection and the life.
He performs miracles that only God could do – healing the sick, raising the dead, walking on water yet he also shows human needs of eating and drinking and sleeping.
Before his death in the Garden of Gethsemane he shows both human and divine qualities about his coming suffering and death.
He fears for what is coming and asks God to remove it from him.
But then his divine nature comes through when he says – “not my will but your will be done”.
In our Bible reading this morning we again see the working together of Jesus’ human nature and his divine nature.
Jesus is experiencing everything humans experience – in particular, suffering and death.
But where is the divine nature of God as we see him about to die?
Can God in fact die?
Jesus is mocked for not saving himself.
He is ridiculed for not coming down from the cross.
Where is his divine nature?
Now would have been the perfect time to do that miracle and have everyone believe!
It is in the final words he speaks to his Heavenly Father as he agonises in pain – he calls out “Forgive them Father.
Would they have been your words?
Accidently cut in front of someone while driving and you’ll see (and hear) the typical human response.
Forgive them Father.
Not, “avenge my death” – or “you are making a huge mistake”.
Forgive them Father – words that only one who truly loves God with his whole heart and who loves his neighbour would speak in such circumstances.
As Christians this is the example that Jesus has left for us.
On the night he was betrayed Jesus left his disciples with a new commandment – love one another as I have loved you.
And here is where we see the example of Jesus love – to forgive even the unforgiveable.
And Jesus’ suffering and death show us the type of opposition that we face as we journey through life confessing our faith in Jesus:
First there are his executioners – the ones who intended harm and inflicted it upon him.
We have them too in our lives who want to see a world without religion – particularly Christianity.
They reject the church and want to cause it harm.
They are the ones who oppose us at every turn.
They ridicule the church – they speak out against the church – they challenge the church by objecting to what we do:
They mock God.
The church shouldn’t be teaching religion in our State Schools.
The church schools shouldn’t be receiving funding from the Government.
The church should be paying its fair share of taxes.
It’s easy to retaliate – eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.
But Jesus says – forgive them Father.
Then there were the soldiers who cast lots for his clothing while he is hanging there in pain.
There were the ones who scoffed at him – the leaders who made fun of him.
He saved others – let him save himself.
If you are the King of the Jews save yourself.
And then there was the thief on the cross who was deriding him even while he was taking his last breath.
Even in his dying moments he could not find it in himself to believe in Jesus.
That is how strong our opposition is.
That a person would rather roll the dice and face the judgment of hell (if hell exists) rather than hedge their bets and find out if what Jesus says is true.
But then there is the glimmer of hope that our reading gives us – that not all is lost.
That not all abandon and reject Jesus.
There are 2 thieves that have been crucified alongside Jesus.
While one spurns rejection at Jesus the other doesn’t.
And not only does he uphold Jesus he also rejects the other thief and his attacks on Jesus.
So I believe that God is wanting to encourage us that while the guards, the people, the leaders and others heaps scorn and abuse on him.
And in the midst of that abuse and the suffering and pain Jesus not only asks God to forgive them but he assures the thief on the cross of the Good News – today you will be with me in paradise.
So this is our mandate too.
That in the midst of the rejection, the abuse, the suffering that the church is going through we are to put aside our earthly response and seek God’s strength to forgive and to pray for God’s salvation to all.
And we are not to give up.
Who would have thought that a thief in his dying moments would repent and seek out Jesus.
And notice that there is no penance.
He’s not told to go and make amends for what he has done.
He doesn’t even confess his sins or repent but simply asks Jesus to remember him and have mercy.
What a gracious act by Jesus while in the midst of suffering and rejection and abuse that he can still muster the strength to extend God’s love to one who was until a few seconds ago one who had rejected him.
And we also get this message from God through this that Jesus power and authority comes from the cross in the midst of his suffering, rejection and ultimate death.
And this too is where the church and Christians are given the power and authority to proclaim to the world God’s love and mercy.
We are called to put aside our human response to what is happening around us and to extend God’s love and mercy to the world.
It is so easy to respond with human emotions which Jesus did not do even though while undergoing his suffering and rejection as truly human, 100%
We too are called to love as Christ loves.
To have the same mindset as St Paul says in Philippians Chapter 2.
Who emptied himself and became obedient even unto death on the cross.
It is easy to respond in human ways – to fight fire with fire – but Jesus shows us a different way.
To forgive – to pray for forgiveness – and to extend God’s love and mercy unconditionally and without any Quid Pro Quo as he did to the thief on the cross.
Jesus said last week – the world will hate you because of me.
But he says – love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
He says forgive them – even if they sin against you 7 times in the same day.
This is how we will show that we are different.
This is how we will show God’s love.
A love that while we were still sinners against God that he sent his Son to us.
It is tempting to use worldly ways to fight against those who fight against us.
To defend ourselves.
But Jesus has already won the fight.
He has fought the good fight and won the victory for us.
Here, on this table, we will receive all that we need for the battle that rages around us.
The body and blood of Christ.
The same body and blood of Christ that cried out from the cross “forgive them Father”.
The forgiveness that we receive and are asked to extend to the world.
A forgiveness that also assures us that today, or whenever Christ calls us home, we will be with him in Paradise.