As Jesus hung on the cross, we find four different groups of people who were there to see the Son of God die. The religious leaders, who were quite satisfied in getting their way, sneered at him. The people, probably some of them had just days earlier cried “Hosana!”, stood there as spectators. The soldiers mocked him, divided his clothes and cast lots for them. And then there were two criminals crucified with Him, one on each side. They all challenged Him to demonstrate that if He was God to save Himself and come down from the cross — but if He had, we’d have no hope for salvation. None of them believed that Jesus was Christ, the Messiah. In fact, when a person was crucified, they nailed a sign over their head that stated what their crime was. Jesus’ crime was being exactly who He said He was – “King of the Jews.” They simply didn’t get it. But in the midst of all the people jeering, staring, sneering, and mocking, there was one who did it. Only one figured out the Jesus was who He said He was.
Of the two criminal crucified with Jesus, two very different things happen with these two men. One of them only thought of himself and how to get out of the situation he was in. He called out to Jesus saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” He really didn’t care if Jesus saved Himself or not. What he really wanted was for Jesus to get him out of his own predicament. In the end, this criminal died and then realized the truth of who Jesus really is when he found himself in Hell for all of eternity – just one breath too late.
However, hanging on Jesus’ other side, is a story of redemption. The other criminal came to realize and understand the difference between his own guilt and Jesus’ innocence. At some point, he made the realization that Jesus is the Messiah and He asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus came into His kingdom. Jesus’ response was to promise that on that very day, he would join Jesus in Paradise.
Everyone of us must choose for ourselves who Jesus is. In Matthew 16:15, Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” And He’s asking you the same question today. How will you answer? The redemption story of the criminal who chose to believe that Jesus is Christ, shows us that even in the last moments of life we can still choose to believe and accept Jesus as our Savior. However, we don’t always know when that last moment will come and you may not have the chance to decide then. Now is the day the salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” There is no sin too big that God can’t forgive. His salvation is a gift that you only need reach out accept. What will you do Jesus?
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