There is another chiastic pattern running in Luke’s account of the crucifixion. If we focus attention on the people mocking Jesus, we have this pattern:
Jewish rulers (v 35)
Roman soldiers (vv 36-37)
Criminal (v 39)
But when the second criminal addresses Jesus, things begin to reverse and unravel. Someone in each of the three categories that hurled mockery at Jesus now confesses Jesus in some fashion:
Criminal (vv 40-43)
Centurion (v 47)
Jewish ruler ?EJoseph of Arimethea (vv 50-53).
Jesus reception of an outcast into His paradise, His kingdom, begins to undo the opposition. Then the sequence of confession is: Gentile, Jewish crowds, Jewish ruler. Jesus reception of the criminal, and the confession of the Gentile centurion are “provocations to jealousy” of the Jews and their rulers. Moreover, Jesus’ actions on the cross exactly replicate His actions in the whole course of His ministry: He has been receiving outcasts and Gentiles from the beginning, while the Jews have been slow to receive Him. This will continue into the book of Acts.
Rich Bledsoe, pastor of Tree of Life Presbyterian Church in Boulder, Colorado, would say that the pattern holds for the church as well. What begins to unravel opposition to the gospel is not apologetics, political activism, or good organization. Mockers within and outside the covenant are turned inside out when the church embraces the outcast.