Hyok Kim
April 14, 2019
Hyok Kim

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Luke 23:1-49; Isaiah 50:4-9


“Are you the King of the Jews, and the Messiah?”

“Then, prove it! We will see about that.”

“Do the King. Prove it that you are the king! This is the time for you to be king. Prove it that you are the Messiah!”

“We are here, waiting for you to be king. We are so pleased to be your servants, yes, we are all willing to be the people of your kingdom. But, first of all, prove it. Do the King. Be the King. Save yourself. Then, we will believe you our King.”

“Come down from the cross now, so that we may see who you really are, and we believe.” (Mark 15:32)

All keep silent. Holding their breath, waiting for something to happen before them now.

The man on the cross, finally, lifts his head up and says,

“Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.”

But, . . . “What?” They cannot believe what they are hearing now. They are waiting something miraculous happen, but, nothing. Then, they mock him, “He saved others. But, he cannot save himself. If you are the King of the Jews, first of all, save yourself, not us!” “Come down from there!”   But, nothing except his saying, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” However, with these words, something new is going to happen here, and actually it has been happening already. But they cannot see what is happening before them. They walked in darkness and lived in a land of shadows, and a great light has come and have been shown before them, shining on them, but they have not recognized the light. They have not known what has been happening in the midst of them.  



          April is the cruelest month, breeding

          Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

          Memory and desire, stirring

          Dull roots with spring rain.

          Winter kept us warm, covering

          Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

          A little life with dried tubers.


This is the opening part of T. S. Eliot’s poem, the Waste Land. Yes, April is a month of hope, and a month of regeneration and rebirth. But, it requires those who lived in darkness of despair, suffering, sorrow, and pain, to open their eyes to the light of hope which has come. And it requires those who did and lived what was right in their eyes as if there was no king, to lean on the Lord, the God of forgiveness, who is merciful and gracious, and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast. And it requires those who wandered around like a walking shadow, and stayed in deadly winter and slept under the forgetful snow, to break down the walls built up around them and to come forth to the light and to open arms to the spring rain.   For the residents of the waste land, April is the cruelest month. They do not want to awake from a peaceful and comfortable death of winter, and a sleep of forgetfulness under the snow. They have slumbered not only their cares, pains, sorrows, suffering, but also their hope and their memory of their God away together. Death without resurrection. Life without hope. They have lived in the waste land, and want to keep staying there. They are the waste land itself.

They do not know what they are doing.  



“Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.”

God is saying through his prophet Isaiah,

“Do not cling to your former living or not dwell on the things of old any more that you did and lived before. Forget it. Leave the former living. See, I am going to do a new thing! And, it is happening already. You can see it now! I am making a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I give water in the wilderness, and rivers in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, whom I made for myself and they will sing my praises! Yet, you did not call upon me; you did not worship me. And you have burdened me with your sins; you have wearied me with your iniquities. And yet, I, I am the God who forgives your sins for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:18-25)

This is the God who sent His Only Son, Jesus, to them, to us, to the resident of the waste land, to the people walking in darkness, in despair, in sorrow, in pain and suffering, in order to forgive and save them. And this is God’s kingdom which Jesus has proclaimed.  



“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

Jesus on the cross is the King, the Son of God. He forgives them mocking, beating, torturing, and crucifying him. He is not a king whom they have thought to be their king. He is not a son of God and a messiah whom they have expected to come. He is so different, so weird, yes, he is so weird, so odd that they cannot understand and imagine.

“Why are you sitting and eating with such sinners? Why are you healing the sick and the lame in Sabbath, the God’s holy day? Why are you not fasting like us?” “Why are you preaching like that? What did you say? ‘Blessed the poor, the weep, the hunger and thirst?’ What did you say that you have come for sinners, not the righteous? You are the Son of God and the Messiah, but . . . to serve the people as a slave? Are you serious?” “O.K. That’s enough. Prove it! Prove it that you have said, taught, healed, and proclaimed before! If you are King and the Messiah, then, not just save others, but save yourself before us right now.” “Here we are to watch. Yes, we will be witness to your saying and your doing and your proclaiming and to your kingship. Do it. Save yourself! Then we believe.”

But, nothing happens.   

“Father, forgive these people; for they do not know what they are doing, saying, and thinking now.”

With this saying, Jesus is about to prove before them His kingship, His Sonship, His Messiahship, suffering and dying on the cross. And, God’s kingdom is coming with the grace of forgiveness, healing, and hope in the Son of God, Jesus whom God sent to serve and forgive the people and give Himself for them, the sinners, the residents of the waste land. But it is not the way that the people have expected the kingdom to come. Their Messiah, their King, should not be a king who can save others but cannot save himself. Their King is not supposed to sit and eat with the sinners. Their King is not supposed to become a criminal on the cross standing between two other criminals. Their King should at least come down from the cross in front of them.  



But he does not save Himself. He cannot save Himself. Instead, he forgives and saves the people. This is how God makes a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the waste land. This is how God’s Kingdom comes, and what the people of His Kingdom look like. Jesus has come to be a place where God and His people would meet. Jesus has come to be a gate through which the people would enter into God’s temple, where His people would worship and praise their God. And Jesus has come to be a road which the people would walk home together. And, Jesus has come to be a confessional where God would be willing and pleased to hear their confessions. Jesus is the forgiveness. Even dying on the cross, He forgives His enemies, and restores the sinner to God’s people and invites to God’s heavenly banquet, to sit and eat with Him.

“Remember me, Jesus.” “I am getting what I deserve for what I did. But you have done nothing wrong. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. I know and believe You are my King.”

Yes, Jesus is the hope. Jesus will remember him. Not only in heaven, but also here and now on the cross is He with the sinners, forgiving, welcoming, and receiving them into His banquet table. And He did remember him. That is why he has come, that is why he is on the cross with him, that is why he refuses to save himself, but saves this sinner who decides to leave the waste land. “Remember me, Jesus, when you come into your kingdom.” It should become today our prayer to the Lord too. Then, Jesus will say, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” “Yes, I will remember you. And you should remember me too whenever you see the people who are hungry, thirsty, naked and imprisoned. And, remember me whenever you meet the sick, the lonely, and the stranger. And remember me that I am the one of these, and give them food, something to drink, and give them clothing. Forgive one another as I forgive you, and welcome one another as I welcome you. Receive them into your family as I receive you into heavenly family.” (Matthew 25:34-36, 40)  

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

This is what is about to happen on the cross. This is what the Kingdom looks like, this is what Jesus has proclaimed among them. This is what Jesus is doing now on the cross, and this is what Jesus came for, and this is what the church looks like, and this is what faith community and we Christina are called to do among our neighbors, and this is the thing by which the people around us know us Christian. And, this is the good news of God for us all, for the world.  

“Lord, forgive us, and remember us when you come into your Kingdom.” Amen.