It was all about a change of heart toward Jesus Christ. Nothing else.
Where you choose to focus will determine if you endure it or if you will find God in it. Seek an Encounter with the Son!
“…Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23:42
Here we are in the middle of Holy Week, thinking thoughts of the cross and the tomb. Isaiah predicted that the Son would be numbered among the transgressors (Is53:12), and at the crucifixion scene this came to pass, as Jesus was crucified between two criminals. His enemies were purposeful that He die this way, in humiliation and debasement as a common thief.
It strikes me as to how similar these two men were and yet again how different they were from each other.
Both of them were criminals – other gospels label them robbers or thieves. It seems they were not political prisoners as they didn’t proclaim innocence. One of them reminded the other one that they were receiving justice – brutal justice at that. They both endured the same torture – both died in the same place on the same day.
As they saw Jesus between them, Matthew tells us that they heaped insults on Him along with the others. I assume they both outlived Jesus as He was already dead when soldiers went to break their legs.
But they also were privy to what Jesus said while on the cross. Think about it: “Father forgive them…mother, here is your son…why have you forsaken me…it is finished…”. These are not the words of an angry, agonized bitter man. Perhaps the inscription above his head – ‘the king of the Jews’ was actually right?
On the other hand, think about how different they were! The first thief chose to rage and curse with his waning strength even though he knew about Jesus as the Christ. Even impending death didn’t break his heart of stone. “He mocked with the mockers, felt no sanctity in death, no awe in His presence, no evil in sin; dared, though stained with many a crime, to associate with the stainless and demand with cool profanity, ‘Save thyself and us!” A.M. Fairburn.
He chose to die in agony – bitterly and in despair.
The second thief began with cursing along with his fellow, even though he too was aware of the miracles and claims of Jesus. But as he observed the behaviour of the Son on the cross – the words He said – he realized that what Jesus had claimed through His ministry was TRUE !He realized that Jesus was innocent and that He was ushering in the Kingdom. He defended Jesus to his fellow and turned his face toward the Saviour.
What was the difference here? It was all about a change of heart toward Jesus Christ. Nothing else. Either to meet the challenges of life with bitterness and disbelief, or to turn focus toward the Son and rest in His accomplishment. What are you experiencing these days? Where you choose to focus will determine if you endure it or if you will find God in it. Seek an Encounter with the Son!
Plan to join us on Saturday April 22 at the church for a day of focus. Jeremy and Carmen Kinniburgh will lead us in study, prayer and discussion around encountering the Holy Spirit. You can register at the church office for this day at 604.792.0051, or click on the events page for all the details and to register.
Pastor Leon Throness