Friday, March 29, 2013

Lent: Criminal on the cross

Luke 23:39-43
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Many people throughout history have been put to death for a crime they did not commit, but Jesus is the only person who has ever been killed unjustly. Put on trial, we would all be judged guilty and deserving of capital punishment. The first criminal was looking for a way to preserve his life, for however short a time, but the second criminal recognized his guilt before the Lord. He understood that his sin merited death. We are each in his position. Each and every sin separates us from God, which spells out our spiritual death.
Jesus' response to the criminal should offer hope to each of us. He didn't rescue the man from physical death. He didn't deny that the man deserved the punishment he received. But he made a commitment that the death would not last. His physical death would open the door to spiritual life, bringing him into Paradise with Christ Himself. We continue to face physical death, occasionally for a crime we've committed, usually for a reason that has nothing to do with the sins which makes us worthy of capital punishment from our Judge. We can imitate the example of the second criminal, admitting our guilt but placing our trust in Christ Jesus. His promise to the criminal is also for us: our physical death can open the door for us to eternal Paradise.

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