The appointed Gospel reading for today is the scene of the crucifixion. As I read it, I thought of the Sons of Zebedee who asked to sit at Jesus’ right and left when Jesus was crowned king, and Jesus told them that they did not know what they were asking for, and it was not up to him who would occupy those positions; rather, it was the Father’s choice:
As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’
Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, “I am God’s Son.” ’The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way. (Mt. 27: 32-44).
As so Jesus takes his throne on the hard wood of the cross with a thief at his right and a thief at his left. Zebedee’s sons are nowhere to be found when Jesus is crowned the King of the Jews. The very Son of God comes into the world to save it from its sinfulness, and the world in a sinful act rejects and kills the Word through whom all things came to be. The Chosen One is despised by those who pass by; He has taken our iniquity on Himself, and by His faithful obedience and stripes on his back, you and I are healed.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death between your judgment and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living; pardon and rest to the dead; to your holy Church peace and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Your servant in Christ,
Fr. Chester J. Makowski+St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550