When we think about the crucifixion, we focus on Jesus - as we should. However, He was not the only one at the place called the Skull. Two criminals were led out with Jesus to be executed along with Him. When conversation turns to the two men crucified on either side of Jesus, I think about two nameless criminals, nothing more. Two thieves - not worthy of much thought.
What do you and I have in common with these two thieves who died some two thousand years ago? Lets look at what we know of them. We know they were guilty and deserved the death penalty because one of them said so. "We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve." And that thief knew that Jesus was innocent. He said that too. Luke 23:41
That man believed in Jesus as the Son of God and asked to be remembered when Jesus came into His kingdom. That criminal received salvation that day just before he died and he saw Jesus in paradise.
That thief has eternal life.
That thief admitted his guilt. Romans 3:32 says that everyone has sinned and falls short of God's glory. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death.
He believed in Jesus and knew He would enter His kingdom. Romans 10:9-10 says that if we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we will be saved.
He called on Jesus. Romans 10:13 says that everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved.
That man, crucified as a criminal beside Jesus, is in Heaven today.
What happened to the other criminal, who hung on the cross on the other side of Jesus? He mocked and hurled insults at Jesus, just as most of the crowd was doing.
He did not admit his guilt. He did not believe in God's Son. He did not call on His name. That thief is in Hell.
John 3:36 says that whoever believes in Jesus Christ has eternal life, but whoever rejects Him will not see life. God's wrath remains on him.
The two criminals were both contemporaries of Jesus. They had similar knowledge of Him. They had heard about His miracles and of His claims. One of them believed in Him, called on Him and received eternal life. One of them ignored the proof and rejected His claims and continued in God's wrath.
At some time, we all have to make the choice. Is Jesus who He said He was? Is He our savior? Will we agree with God that we are guilty of sin? Will we believe in Jesus Christ? Will we call on Him to save us? What do we have in common with those two criminal? Each of us is like one of them - either the one who believed in Jesus or the one who rejected Him.
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