On Easter we focus on Jesus and the cross. This is awesome and good. However there were three crosses that Good Friday.
The middle cross has Jesus on it and you can’t do what he did on that cross. No one can.
But the one on the right and the one of the left each one had a thief hanging on it. The Bible doesn’t say much more about them. If you were there, you’d just think three men were being executed. The reality is much different. Jesus was paying the price for us all. He chose to hang there and to die out of love. He became the sacrifice so we could be set free from the consequences of our sins. So this wasn’t just a bad guy dying. This was the only person who never sinned dying so everybody who did sin could live!
The two thieves represent us. It’s hard to believe our lives can be summed up by two thieves I know but hear me out.
The guy on the left is mad that he got caught and doesn’t want to pay the price for his crime. I can’t say I blame him though. I don’t want to suffer the consequences for all the stupid things I do and my consequences don’t include public execution!
But this guy mocks Jesus. “You’re supposed to be so powerful get yourself off the cross and save us both with you.” He misses what’s going on here. He rejects Jesus. He mocks God.
The other guy knew he deserved his fate. He knew he sinned and he didn’t turn away from God. He went towards Jesus. “Be quiet!” He says to the other thief. “We deserve what we got because we are guilty. But Jesus is innocent. He has committed no crime, no sin.” Then he asks Jesus to remember him when he enters his kingdom.
How does Jesus respond to these two men? He ignores the mocking one and accepts the other one.
You see, either we reject Jesus or we accept Jesus. Both men died that very day. The one that rejected Jesus is not with Jesus. Jesus says if you reject me, I will reject you before my Father in heaven. There is only one other place in which you can spend eternity. If you’re not with Jesus in paradise, then you’re in hell.
The man that repented and acknowledged his sin accepted Jesus. He didn’t have much time because he was about to die. He didn’t go and on in some flowery prayer. His words were simple, direct, and honest. He could be me. He could be anybody.
“Jesus, I am a sinner and I am sorry. Please accept me into your kingdom.” And guess where he is now? You’re right! He’s in heaven.
As a thief, do you think he had much value in his world? Do you think he felt loved?
Yet there he is loved and valued by Christ, the Messiah.
Maybe the man who rejected Jesus was just as unloved and just as unvalued. He didn’t choose Jesus. Yet Jesus loved them both equally.
And that is why they represent us. Just like them we are sinners. And just like them, we have to make a choice about Jesus.
The devil, Satan, doesn’t want you to feel you can be loved or that you don’t deserve anything like salvation. He will tell you lies or have others, maybe your own mind, tell you lies. But the truth is way better than these lies.
Don’t ever believe those lies that say you are a mistake or that you don’t matter. Those are lies designed to keep you down and away from salvation.
Jesus loves us all equally. It doesn’t matter if you’re born into a rich family or a poor family, a loving family or a hard family, Jesus loves you just as much as he loves anyone.
In the end, Easter is about the perfect balance of sacrifice and love. Salvation is a free gift. It is up to us to accept it.
Which man on the cross are you? That’s the only question that needs to be asked and answered.
Thank you Jesus for this gift of salvation.