other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed."
In fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah's prophecy, Jesus was crucified between two thieves: "He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death" (Isa 53:9). Both were criminals. Both were being punished for crimes they had INDEED committed. But they were also VERY different. Could it be that perhaps God had a lesson for us to learn by choosing these particular two men to flank His Son's death? Let's take a closer look at each of these thieves:
"One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: 'Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!'" (Luke 23:39).
The first thief, even while himself hanging on a cross, continues in his chosen way of life by hurling insults at the Son of Man. Is it pride that spurs his words? Or perhaps fear of the crowd? We aren't told, but one thing is sure: This man is not repentant for what he has done!
"But the other criminal rebuked him. 'Don't you fear God,' he said, 'since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong. Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.'" (Luke 23:40-42)
What a contrast to the first thief! The second humbly tells the first to be quiet! He admits to his crimes, even recognizes that he deserves the punishment he receives. What a difference!
I would like to suggest that these two thieves that flanked Jesus at Calvary represent all of mankind. Both thieves had sinned, and so has all of mankind! ". . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:22-24). Both were deserving of their punishment, just as each of us is worthy of death for our sins. But just as the two thieves were very different, I would like to suggest that there are also two very different groups of people within the category of "mankind".
group, represented by the first thief who continued in his life of sin
by hurling insults at Jesus as He hung on the cross, are those who
proudly continue in their walk of death. When given the
choice of freedom from their lives of sin, they mock Jesus' gift of
grace by refusing to accept it, even mocking the ones sent to bring the
gospel to them.
The second group of people, represented by the second thief, are those who recognize their need of a Saviour and humbly admit to their sin. Then they take it a step farther. The second thief, after admitting his guilt, said: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." (Luke 23:42). He lay his guilt at Jesus' feet! And how did Jesus respond? The exact same way He does today, my friends! "Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'" (Luke 23:43). Jesus' gift of grace is free for the asking. All we have to do is humbly admit our guilt and accept Jesus' gift of Salvation!
Which thief represents you, my friends? Are you still filled with pride? Do you still feel you are being unfairly treated? Do you still call out, "Why me, Lord?" Do you mock the gift of grace by denying it, by claiming you have to "do" something to be saved? Why not be like the other thief today? Why not humbly admit/confess your wrongdoings and allow Jesus in? Reach out to Him today, friends! This is the day of Your Salvation! Answer the Savior's call! For if you don't, His death for YOU will be in vain!
Which thief are you?
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Moderator, The Nugget, Scriptural Nuggets ( www.scripturalnuggets.org ), Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org