Meditations on our Saviour's crucifixion
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"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. Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23: 39-43
Isn't it particularly comforting that after the price for sin was paid and the work of Jesus Christ on earth was finished, one of the first people admitted through the gates of heaven, possible the first person travelling on this new Heavenly passport was one of the thieves on the cross who recognized and accepted the the Lord for who He was? He prayed a very simple prayer "Remember me" on his death bed and he was pardoned.
Fanny Crosby probably had this in mind when she wrote the second verse of that wonderful hymn, "To God be the Glory". She writes
"The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives"
I take comfort in this because being high up in the heirachy of sinners myself, there is nothing else but the Cross for me to cling to. And that is what the Bible teaches. There is none righteous, no not one. I have been listening to the proceedings on the trial of "the 20th hijacker" and particularly on the account of the events as they unfolded on Fight 93 before it crashed in Pennsylvania. And sometimes I think these guys were the vilest of people and I ask what kind of wickednes is this?
But I do not think there are varying temperatures in hell for degrees of sin. Ultimately, the sin of the hijacker or the mass murderer is no different from my sin of disobedience if I reject Christ. There is only one way out of eternal damnation no matter who you are. And that way is the Grace of God through Christ; to ask for and to receive an unmerited pardon just like the thief on the cross. - Robbo
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he,
Washed all my sins away. - William Cowper 1731-1800
Good words, Robbo. I have heard Bob Mumford say that when the thief got to the gates of Heaven, he was probably asked questions like, "What are you doing here? You don't belong here! You've not memorized Scripture verses, you did not witness, you did not tithe, you did not attend Sunday school etc, etc"
Someone mentioned to me recently that if by some chance Timothy McVeigh made it to heaven, she would not be comfortable being there with him. But the truth of the matter is in Ephesians 2:8-9
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast"
Its incredible isn't it- faith plus nothing else. This shows that people are saved inspite of all our showmanship at altar calls. Sometimes I wonder if it is not just to count bodies that we get so passionate about altar calls. I do believe in giving people the opportunity to come forward though, though unlike many pastors I do not get upset when no one does- they may have heard the message, repented and said their own version of the "sinner's prayer" and quietly beaten a hasty retreat at the instruction of the Holy Spirit. - Gaius Texas.
I'm blessed by your Easter meditation. I'm very grateful that Jesus Christ paid the price we're incapable of paying. What transpired was definitely the work of grace- even fro the thief to have believed in Christ at that crucial moment.
First, he recognised that he was unfit to be crucified at the same time and place with the Son of God. But to have recognized the deity of Jesus was again the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus on the way to the cross had no resemblance ( the Roman soldiers did a good job on him) to what anyone will perceive as the Son of God. He had failed to command the angels to His rescue, was agonizing just like any human will do and did not shut the foul mouth of the taunting crowd.
The brother also recognized and admitted his sins and made no excuses. Furthermore, he believed even what the disciples had failed to believe at that time; that Jesus had a kingdom other than to overthrow the hated Romans. He even believed that Jesus in his most helpless state (God the father had temporarly looked away because of our sins) was able to change his destiny. I hope when people come to Christ (whether during alter calls in church, en mass at crusades, or in private) they're as sincere and full of faith as this brother did. - Gaius Chicago
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