SOULS hovering on the brink of hell: That’s what those two criminals were – one on the left and the other on the right side of Jesus Christ.
Imagine this for a moment: Jesus is dying, two criminals beside him are dying too and what we witness here is the only deathbed (well, sort of) conversation in the Bible.
One of the criminals looked at Jesus and hurled insults at him. “Aren’t you Christ? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked the first one. He said: “We are punished justly for we are getting what we deserve, but this man has done nothing wrong.”
One in pain and agony hurled insults and the other in pain and agony voiced what his heart had detected and said: ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
Actually, Jesus’ love and forgiveness were available for the other thief also because he died for the sins of the WHOLE world. The difference was that he chose not to receive it… he was a skeptic.
Time had ended for the thieves on the cross. They could do nothing whatsoever to make up for what they had done or turn their life around. There was no ‘Plan ‘B’. Friends, we need to remember that “Jesus is the only plan that God has for our redemption”…when He said: “I am the way, truth and life”, He was not kidding, He was serious about it.
And to the one who chose life, Jesus made a promise that sends shivers down hells’ corridors. He said: “TODAY, you would be with me in paradise.”
Hey, wait a minute, it’s not fair. He didn’t know the creed, and he was not baptized, he didn’t go through a new membership class. So, how could he be with Jesus in paradise? Yes, he did not, but folks today, this man had his place in paradise reserved because of his faith in Jesus.
Yes, he did not know the creed, nor was he baptized…but he knew Christ and he confessed Christ. And what was his confession? “This man has done nothing wrong and is still being punished. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Folks, I am closing here. There’s nothing is more dangerous than “some sort of faith” – where we could be close to the cross, witness everything that Christ went through and yet fail to confess him, be cynical, just like the first guy. There is only one faith, it’s called the saving faith, which the other guy had, he clinged on to it, like his last straw, he humbled himself and accepted it in spite of evidence to the contrary… By all appearance the kingdom was finished but he said to a dying Jesus “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
And that is faith…being the certainty of things we hope for.
This world has always been divided, and it always will be divided, with Christ at the center. Maybe God the Father placed a man on each side of Jesus for this reason: one is the voice of the kingdom of this world, of arrogance, cynicism and pride and the other is the voice of the kingdom of God, of humility, contriteness and faith.
These two voices continue to speak from either side of the cross today. Which of these voices will you choose today?
Rev. Mathews George is a pastor at Tucker Street Church in Greater Memphis Area in the US. He has mentored many people around the United States and India. He believes that only in understanding and accepting Jesus into lives true healing takes place. He can be reached at his email ID: mathewsown [at] gmail [dot] com