Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Standing By A Purpose True"1 (Lyrics)
Luke 23:32 – Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with [Jesus] to be executed. (NIV)
Why did God allow those two other men, criminals, to have centre stage next to our Lord Jesus? What was God's purpose in their crucifixion on crosses beside the Son of God? This question has been bothering me for years. The crucifixion scene was only too familiar in the Roman world. The next day would have done just as well, so why then? Why did God allow us to see those two other men next to Jesus' cross, dying with Him?
Those two other men were hanging there beside Jesus, but I had come to pay very little attention to them. Why bother with those other people in my life who didn't care about my beliefs, or me? Until last Good Friday, and then, it happened. What was that? Is it worth listening to? Well, yes, take note here. Don't miss the presence of those two other men on crosses, or you will miss divine truth for yourself.
So, why did those two other men take part in Jesus' crucifixion scene? Why?
Luke 23:39-40a,42 – One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God?" he said. Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." (NIV)
Those two other men represent all of us. Some of us, like me, are the sinner who has repented. The other one, who thought that he knew it all, represents many others. Ouch! It hurts to think that, but God was in charge of the crucifixion scene, not the Roman soldiers. God's almighty power governs all life and death. Thank You, Father, for allowing us to see how seeking forgiveness from You, through Jesus, points us to life with You. As Jesus told that man hanging beside Him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43 NIV) This is true for all of us when we ask for forgiveness, even in very difficult circumstances. Jesus welcomes us.
But what if we ignore this opportunity in Jesus' presence? We see them both beside Jesus. Which one represents you? Have we said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom"? Or has it been something like, "I am too busy to care about this man and His teachings about God"? Instead, let's make it, "Forgive me, for I know not what I do. Help me to change so that I am truly Your disciple. Jesus, You are my Lord and Saviour."
May we truly open up to the Lord Jesus, even as we cry out, "I am here with You, looking at You beside me. Lord, remember me when You come into Your own." And Jesus will be there, answering us, "I am here beside you, hanging here, and loving you. Today, you will be with me in paradise."
Prayer: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for giving us Your life, Your all, on the cross. It was a terrible day, but even in Your dying, You saved a man who turned to You. Today, we turn to You for blessing, forgiveness, hope, and love. With You, everything will come together beyond our greatest hopes. Then, we, too, will see You with the Father in heaven. O Christ, You are our risen Lord; You will be there to greet us. In Your name, we pray. Amen.