THREE MEN were crucified on that dark day, at the place of the Skull. All three crucified as criminals.
A notice hung above the Man in the middle, which read: This Is The King Of The Jews.
One thief hurled insults at the Man. “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” He mocked the Man.
And why not? The Man was bloodied and bruised — a picture of shame and defeat.
Yet the other thief hanging there saw something else.
There he is, the Christ, beat up and hung on a cross, just like me.
Just like me.
“Don’t you fear God?” he rebuked the other thief, “You are under the same sentence. We get what we deserve. But this man has done no wrong.”
Then he pleaded, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
What could have struck him to say such a thing? What could have generated such deep faith?
He must have heard the Man consoling the wailing women that day.
He must have heard the Man asking his Father to forgive the crucifiers.
He must have seen the sign that said “The King of the Jews” and believed.
Then the heavens opened up before his eyes.
There he is, Jesus the Messiah, beat up and hung on the cross, just like me.
Just like me.
Have you ever suffered for something that wasn’t your fault? Who hasn’t?
Here, now, we all suffer for things we have no control over. Violence, corruption, selfishness, and war hurt us all.
Many times my history was beyond my control. I didn’t ask for the wounds that sting me.
But the Lord Jesus walks the walk with you to the bitter end. He did not shield himself, not from any of it.
He suffered the worst with us and from us.
Imagine the shame in front of his Father in heaven. Taking all the blame, yet innocent.
This Man has done no wrong.
And then, in the darkest moment of all, something wondrous comes forth from the lips of the Man:
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
And darkness fell.
The sun stopped shining.
The temple curtain was torn in two.
Jesus cried out,
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”
Can it be? Is it possible? Did the thief repeat this cry? Can this cry also escape from my lips?
This is the way to paradise.
This is the cry of those made innocent by the blood of Christ.
The criminal forgot about the shame of his past. Instead, he was filled by the Spirit of God.
At that moment, all guilt was put to death.
And in exchange, we get heaven.
It’s the power of the sacrifice of the innocent Lamb.
It’s the same power that created the universe.
The same power that resurrects the dead.
And for those who accept, for those who believe, heaven awaits.
And you will say one day,
“There he is. The Man. Here he is in heaven.
Just like me.”
Bible citations adapted from Luke 23:26-46
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