NOTES AND QUOTES FOR TODAY:
The Three Crosses
“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).
The cross was the place of torture and death. When a person was seen going down the street carrying his cross, everyone that saw him knew that he wasn’t coming back! Calvary’s hill was a place for mass crucifixion if need arose. This may be why it was called in the Hebrew tongue Golgotha, or “…The place of the skull” (Mark 15:22). The custom of the Romans was to put criminals to death publicly.
On that particular day, only three spaces for the crosses were used. Jesus was nailed to the center cross; the two malefactors occupied the other two, one on the left and the other on the right. These two were both thieves and malefactors, implying that they not only did evil, but that they organized and initiated crimes. At any rate, they were sentenced to death, so their crimes were not regarded as light.
It was not by chance that Pilate included them in the general order for execution. The prophet Isaiah, writing prophetically seven centuries before, stated that the Lord will be “…numbered with the transgressors…” (Isaiah 53:12). Perhaps there is also another reason for the death of those thieves. Here is a picture story – an object lesson – of the effect of the gospel upon human hearts. One thief was gloriously saved; the other was forever lost. Yet both had the same opportunity to believe.
II – The Cross of Reception
A Dying Saint – The man who died with his sin taken from him.
The two malefactors had carried their crosses all the way to the place of execution. Then they were roughly affixed to them by the soldiers and lifted up. Their pain was indescribable. Losing all control, they cursed their fate. Then taking note of the jeering and mocking being heaped upon the occupant of the middle cross, they sized upon the idea that in some way He was responsible for their agony, and they did the same in His face. They too, took up the sneering and mocking strain and screamed accusingly that if He indeed was the Messiah, He had claimed to be, why didn’t He come down and save them all at that moment of torture.
Both malefactors railed on Him. How long they railed upon Him we don’t know; but this we know, that at one point into the heart of one of the poor wretches divine conviction laid hold on him. As he gazed upon the dying Son of God, who suffered as they did without a word of complaint, praying for his enemies, “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…”, he suddenly saw who He was, and called Him “Lord.” He rebuked his fellow-malefactor 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” (Luke 23:40-41).
He seemed to sense the perfect holiness of Jesus, and in vivid contrast he saw the sinfulness and wickedness of his own life and that of his companion. Yes, “…this man hath done nothing amiss.” What a declaration at such a time. He admitted his guilt and that of his companion in crime and the justice of their punishment at the same time rebuking the other malefactor for his attitude toward Christ who had done “…nothing amiss.” He then turned to Jesus as he recognized in that thorn-crowned Sufferer the One who is the King of glory, and he said, “…Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” This was faith coupled with genuine repentance. So was this man hanged upon that cross gloriously saved!
In the midst of His (the Lord) own anguish, a suffering impossible for human beings to comprehend, He paused to answer the heart cry of his repentant criminal and to assure him of forgiveness and entrance into Paradise. “…To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Yes, this cross brought about a last minute conversion. His sins were cancelled in a moment. Not time for anything! Only faith on the Christ of the center cross. This malefactor was in sin, sorrow, agony, and pain in the morning; noon hour he was in grace; night he was in glory! His home in heaven will be shared by all who believe. Surely if such a sinner could be saved, no one in all life should despair.
A story is told of one of the generals of Cyprus, the great king of Persia. This one general came home from a campaign and was shocked that in his absence his own wife had been arrested and charged with treachery against her country. The trial was conducted the same day he arrived. The general hastened to the court of Cyprus, and the guards brought in his beloved wife.
The poor woman, pale and anxious, tried to answer the charges brought against her, but to no avail. Her husband standing near her, the wrath of the king kindled upon her with the stern voice of his pronouncing the death sentence. In a moment, as they were about to drag her away to behead her, her husband ran forward and threw himself down at the feet of the Emperor. “Oh! Sir!” he cried. “not her, but me, let me give my life for her, put me to death, but spare my wife.”
The emperor looked upon him, he was touched by his deep devotion and his love for his wife that his heart was softened. He remembered too, how faithful his servant had been, and he gave the command that the wife should go free. She was fully pardoned! And as her husband led her out of the court, he said to her, “Did you notice the kind look in the eyes of the emperor as he pronounced the word of pardon?” She said to her husband, “I did not see the face of the emperor. The only face that I could see was that of the man who was willing to die for me.” Oh! Dearly beloved, when we get home in heaven, when we see the face of the man who died for us, how our hearts will praise him: how we will rejoice in His presence as we shout, “…the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me”!!
The cross is the highest manifestation of the love of God!!
To be continued …
From The Staff of The Peoples Gospel Hour
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The Bible reveals two ways which people are following to get into heaven. One way, the true way, is God’s way. God’s way into heaven is the way of peace and truth and righteousness. It is the only way approved of God. This way centers in the Lord Jesus Christ who said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). The Bible declares that there is another way. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12).
There are so many popular ways today filled with lost multitudes all over the land, such as the way of morality, the way of respectability, the way of religion, the way of churchianity, the way of baptism, the way of christening, the way of confirmation, the way of penance, the way of confession, the way of “doing the best I can”, the way of self, the way of education, the way of philosophy, the way of false isms and cults that crowd the street. Little wonder then when we speak to people about the way of salvation, that so many have asked, “How can I know which is the true way? There are so many different ideas and so many religions.”
But there is ONE difference between God’s way of salvation and man’s way, and that difference is found in a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. You will notice that man leaves Christ out of the center of his way. You will discover that the modern false cults and isms demote Christ to a mere man and add something to what He has already done for your salvation and mine. We become children of God through a supernatural birth. Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Jesus also said, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:7)
“May the Lord bless you, and make you a blessing!” – The PGH Staff.