Criminals on the Cross

Criminals on the Cross – God’s Eternal Plan
Through the criminals on the cross, we see that death exposes the human heart. Note what was said during Jesus’ crucifixion. The events of that historic time proclaim truth for us all.

    “Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ There was a written notice above him, which read: ‘This is the king of the Jews.’ One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? 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, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’” (Luke 23:32-43).
Though murdered by evil men, Jesus died according to the eternal plan of God omnipotent. Cruel people, both Jews and Gentiles, mocked Him with delight. Rather than cursing them, Jesus prayed they be forgiven. He came for that very reason, a sacrifice for us all.

Criminals on the Cross – Different Destinations
At the climax of a lifetime’s interaction with sinners, we see Jesus between two criminals. One joins the mockers and dies with his sins. The other admits his guilt, acknowledges Jesus’ majesty and seeks His mercy. An aloof sovereign might well ignore such a request from so despicable a subject. But we are all guilty, and King Jesus shows mercy to all. Only one thing remains. Like the repentant criminal, we must put our last and only hope in the King.

    “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. … All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day’” (John 6:35, 37-40).
As one who gives away all his food, so Jesus sacrificed His body. No mere human effort compares. Nothing we sinners might do can erase our past, meet God’s holy demands, and usher us into heaven. But if we turn to Jesus, He will never send us away. We can be sure of paradise simply because only He can offer such a gift, and only He can keep such a promise.
    “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

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Compliments of Scott Munger, PhD, Biblica, All rights reserved in the original.


WHAT DO YOU THINK? - We have all sinned and deserve God's judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, "Jesus is Lord," you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.

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