Reflect: When a person was being crucified, it was customary to place a sign on the cross, above the person’s head, describing the crime and criminal’s name. Pilate had a sign made and fastened to Jesus’ cross, “Jesus of Nazareth. The King of the Jews.” Remember, this was during the Passover celebration in Jerusalem. According to a first century Jewish writer, Josephus, there was a count taken indicating there were up to 2,700,000 attendees there from all over the Roman Empire. This means 1,600,000 people had pilgrimaged to Jerusalem for Passover. This could be one of the reasons that Pilate had the sign written in three languages – so everyone was able to understand what it said in their own language. Imagine being Jesus, in the worst most excruciating pain possible and gasping for each breath as the paralysis in your chest muscles increases, and in the midst of it people are mocking you and shouting abuse (Matthew 27:39).
What was Jesus’ attitude towards the mockers and haters? “Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:34) Even to the end our Redeemer is offering grace, mercy, love, empathy and forgiveness towards imperfect people. His perfect forgiveness was portrayed as the criminal next to Him hanging on the cross said, “‘We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” (Luke 23:41-42).