AT EASTER, WHAT ABOUT THE TWO THIEVES ON THE CROSS – WHICH CROSS REPRESENTS YOU ?

   “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

  Luke 23:39;43 KJV

It seems to me that the most important thing that Christ did for us was to die on the cross. However, two other men were crucified next to him that day. Knowing God could have chosen for Christ to be crucified alone, thereby putting more of a historical spotlight on the sacrifice of this Son, I wonder why God chose to allow two other men to be crucified with Jesus that day?  The forgiveness that Jesus gives to the one man before dying is yet another act of love even as he is dying himself. A seven hundred year old prophecy was being fulfilled when Jesus was hung in the middle of the two thieves, as if to say, “Here is your King of the Jews.” They didn’t realize that Jesus was not only the “King of the Jews.” but the “King of Kings.” They just didn’t know. So they stood there and mocked Him, shouting, “Alright, King of the Jews, if you’re the Son of God, come down from the cross. Save yourself. You saved others, save yourself.” The two thieves hanging on the other crosses along with Jesus also didn’t understand. They were mocking Jesus right along with the crowd. Two thieves! These two men about to die, were both faced with a choice. One thief spoke words that showed insights even greater than that of the disciples. This thief realized Jesus had a kingdom beyond the grave. He looked over at Jesus, saw Jesus in His weakest state, dying on a cross, yet he believed. The Bible says, “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:42-43 KJV  This was God’s gift to him, His son would take on the sins of this man, and pay the price for his atonement. This thief didn’t deserve it, but because of his faith he became Jesus’ first trophy of Salvation. The other thief had the same choice, but his heart was hard. The penitent thief was obviously saved by Jesus, and without baptism!  His salvation cannot be questioned, because of it, Jesus asserted that the thief would enjoy Paradise with Jesus.  But, a logical question would be,if baptism was not necessary for the thief, then is it necessary for me?  The Biblical answer is yes.  There are two fundamental problems with assuming that baptism is not necessary for us, just because the thief was saved without it. The first point that should be observed is that the thief lived and was converted under a different covenant than us.  Please recall the following passage of the differences between the Old and New Testaments. It says, “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out-of-the-way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” Colossians 2:12-17 KJV  So, the Old Testament was done away when Christ died upon the cross, having nailed it to the cross.  A result of it being removed was the removal of the Old Testament’s authority.  Therefore, the old law’s commandments about food, drink, and regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths,  are no longer bound upon people.  However, today we live under the New Covenant which commands us to be baptized.  That being demonstrated, we may wonder, under which covenant did the thief live? Paul illustrate the transition between the two covenants. It says, “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” Romans 7:2-4 KJV  First, this passage teaches that the old covenant ended when Jesus died, which was after the thief’s repentance and forgiveness by Jesus.  Second, recall that baptism symbolizes our selfish desires having died with Christ. So, how could the thief have possibly been baptized into Christ’s death when Christ had not even died yet?  Baptism by Jesus’ name was not commanded until after His death. It was first commanded in Jesus’ great commission, which occurred after the resurrection. The Bible says, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20 KJV  Therefore, the thief’s example is irrelevant to us because he was saved under a different law, the old law, when baptism had not even been commanded yet. Therefore Christ wanted to take both of these men to Heaven with Him, but it was not to be. Christ was supplying the grace, but faith has to come from realization, belief, and acceptance, and this thief was incapable of it. Faith is knowing that you are a sinner, believing that Christ is the only one who can save you, and accepting His gift of salvation. Only of the thieves saw this. The Bible says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV  These two men represented everyone, each and every one of us. They were symbolic in the sense that they were obviously both depraved sinners, as indeed we all are. The heart of a man throughout the whole Bible indicates a meaning of the heart being the whole person the mind, the body, the soul, the very essence of a man. There is significance to the fact that on the day Jesus was crucified, two others were as well. It says, “Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.” Matthew 27:38 KJV The three crosses represent FINALITY. They were not going to leave the crosses and resume life. Jesus died for sin and was resurrected. The man on the right received Christ and went to heaven. The sinner on the left died and went to hell. The three crosses represent the GRACE OF GOD. Christ was in the middle dying for both the sinners. The thief on the left had the same opportunity. You do not have to get saved, God will let you make the horrible choice and pay the price. The man on the left only wanted his life saved, not his soul. The same grace was offered to both. The three crosses represent the wonderful PLAN OF SALVATION.  Christ died on the middle cross FOR SIN, the man on the right DIED TO SIN, the man on the left DIED IN HIS SIN. On the middle cross, GOD COMES TO MAN, on the right cross MAN COMES TO GOD, on the left cross MAN GOES TO HELL. The three crosses represent mankind’s reaction to God. Jesus on the middle cross represents God LOVING, SUFFERING, SUBSTITUTING, GIVING, FORGIVING, PAYING AND OFFERING. The cross on the left represents man SCOFFING, REFUSING, HATING, DENYING, UNBELIEVING, AND UNWILLING DYING LOST. The cross on the right represents man REPENTING, BELIEVING, RESPONDING, CONFESSING, ACCEPTING AND RECEIVING and going to heaven by the grace of God. The question to be answered by all is, WHICH CROSS REPRESENTS YOU?  On the day Jesus died, three crosses were raised. Jesus hung on the center one between two criminals. One of the men mocked Jesus, but the other said to Him, “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus answered, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Imagine the man’s thoughts as he took his last breath. He had paid a horrible penalty for his crimes. But now, because he put his faith in Jesus, he was welcomed into heaven as a child of God. You can too. Open up your heart today to Jesus Christ, because He is the One that died on the cross and shed His blood for your sins so you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger


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3 Responses to AT EASTER, WHAT ABOUT THE TWO THIEVES ON THE CROSS – WHICH CROSS REPRESENTS YOU ?

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