What can we learn from the two thieves crucified next to Jesus?
The life of Jesus was a mission of love and His death was no exception. The crucifixion of Jesus upon the cross at Calvary is a lesson in living. Jesus loved to teach by using metaphor. The life and death of Jesus was a metaphor for the way we should conduct our lives.
According to Luke in chapter 23 it seems sure, at least at the beginning, one of His co-accused was riling against Him. Luke 23: 39-41 says, "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.'"
Jesus was suffering in a way that we cannot begin to grasp or even partially understand, so too was this criminal. He was never to come down from that cross alive, and yet he saw, or sensed something in Jesus that moved him in such a way that it became the road to his salvation. If ever there was a soul hovering on the brink of Hell it was this criminal, a virtual nobody hanging beside Him, the Son of God. In a heartbeat, he voiced what his intuition had detected; that Jesus was indeed the Son of God!
Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom'" (Luke: 23:42). What Jesus did next was a wonderful example of understanding, acceptance, love, and compassion all wrapped up in one conclusive act. It is the epitome of the life of Jesus, strength thru adversity. Without hesitation Jesus responded to his plea for mercy: "Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise'" (Luke:23:43).
We can learn from one of the two who were crucified next to Jesus. It is never too late to repent and ask the Lord to accept us. Jesus cleansed this man from his sins, received him graciously, and justified him unconditionally. He conferred upon a sinner the gift of eternal life.
But what of the other offender! We have learned that we can be saved, even at the very hour of our death, and yet this is not the reality for all. It comes down to a matter of faith. It is never too late to repent, and to announce your faith in Jesus!
Many have approached the word of God with doubts and contempt. The Bible is under constant attack from those who would seek to 'prove' that it is wrong, or contains false teachings, just as the thief hanging beside Jesus, with the same level of skepticism, challenged Jesus to 'prove' that He was the Son of God by bringing Himself down from the cross. However God doesn't retaliate or become angry when we try to tempt Him, He doesn't attack us or abandon us. When we honestly approach Him we can gain some insight into what it must have been like for the thief on the cross to be prized and accepted in spite of past indiscretions. His true love and mercy can subdue our doubts and sooth our pain. When we come to Him without excuse and offer our heart and soul to Him, we can experience the awesome love and grace of the Lord.
Jesus never strayed from His objective which was to teach us unconditional love and acceptance towards each other. His death was a testimony that salvation is a reality for all of us when we voice our faith. Jesus gave us a lesson in forgiveness while He hung there upon the cross suffering for us, dying for us.
Learn More about the Crucifixion.
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