24 April 2014

Two Thieves

This past month has went by in such a blur for me. I've been finishing up the last few weeks of college, preparing for Nursing school (one month till I begin, yikes!), attended a Youth Convention with my church and celebrated Easter this past Sunday with friends and family. The blur has come with many blessings.

During Easter Sunday I listened as our Associate Pastor taught on the cross - the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus. He didn't just tell the story but he began to indulge in the surroundings and the people in that day. Specifically, the two thieves who were hung on crosses on either side of Jesus. Those two thieves held a deeper meaning for me that morning.

In Luke 23 we see the story in its entirety. My focus is mainly in Luke 23:32-43 - take a moment to pull out your Bible or your Bible app and read through those verses. I never focused on the two criminals. I always knew they were crucified with Jesus but that's where their story ended for me. Read verses 39-43 again.
"39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, 'Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!' 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, 'Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.' 42 And he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' 43 And he said to him, 'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.'" (ESV)

Here, we see two different responses. The one criminal is rebuking Jesus just like the crowd saying that if He is who He says He is then save them. But the other criminal is repentant. His words show that He realized just who Jesus was in that moment. He realized there was no fault in Him. He realized that He was their Savior, the one who was preached about, the one who healed, mended, and saved. Instead of following the crowds and mocking Jesus, he feared God. He was in awe of Him. His repentant heart cried out to Jesus asking Him to remember him when He reached His kingdom.

The best part about it all was that Jesus answered him! Jesus was hanging, nailed to a cross, in deep agony and physical pain (I believe it was also deep emotional and spiritual pain as well), but He still listened to the cries of this thief.

Through the suffering of the cross, Jesus still expressed his divine love for man.

He showed compassion as He listened to the plea of one who cried out for forgiveness. Through His own pain, He answered the needs of a sinner. That was His undying love expressed that day. As if the cross wasn't enough, He still saved a wretched sinner who didn't deserve the mercy he was shown.

Doesn't that sound familiar?

In our sinful nature, our human flesh, we don't deserve the mercies of God. But He gives it to us anyway. We don't deserve His love. But He shows it to us anyway. He's there right in time. Don't give place to thoughts that say you aren't good enough for forgiveness or that you are too much of a sinner to repent. Although we may not face the punishment of being crucified, that criminal was no worse than any of us, but God listened to his cry, remembered him and saved him. The cross was never the end, it was only just the beginning. Jesus still loves, mends, heals, listens and wants you to come to Him with a repentant heart.

He still saves.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Such a great after-Easter post to read. The cross doesn't end with just Easter weekend. It's ongoing, daily grace that we receive each and every day from the Lord. So good!