Good News for a Dying Thief
God on the cross did for us what we could never do for ourselves.
On that first Good Friday, nearly 2,000 years ago, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was crucified. For six hours he hung on the cross, and during that time, he uttered seven sayings. Obviously, making any kind of intelligible statement (let alone a theologically weighty one) while dying on a cross would have been incredibly difficult. Crucifixion was a torturous death reserved for slaves, the poor, and for criminals. In fact, the pain of crucifixion was so horrendous that a word was invented to explain it—excruciating. It means "out of the cross." The way to understand the cross and the pain is that it was excruciating. In the midst of his own death, Jesus made seven statements, and in his dying, he shows us how to live.
Today we're going to look at Jesus' second statement from the cross. Let's begin reading in Luke 23:39:
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we, indeed, justly. For we are receiving the due reward for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
As I read the gospel account of Jesus' crucifixion, I can't help but be struck by the irony of what happened on that day: that he was accused of blaspheming God, but he, being the Son of God, was blasphemed by them; that his tormentors mocked him as a king—they put a sign over his head that read "King of the Jews"—but the irony is that he really was a King; that he was pronounced innocent five times, but ...
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John Lindell is the Lead Pastor at the James River Assembly in Ozark, Missouri.