On Easter, especially, we take time to reflect on the cross where Jesus died. As I lay in a hospital bed last month, weeping in despair, I realized the lesson I needed to learn was actually from the other cross.
In Luke 23:40-43 we read, "But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said,
“since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for
we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing
wrong.” Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your
kingdom.' Jesus answered him, 'Truly I tell you, today you will be
with me in paradise.'”
is a safe assumption that the two thieves in the Easter story were just
that, thieves. One admitted as much. And although the “good
thief" asked Jesus to remember him in his kingdom, it struck me that he didn't ask for
Jesus to save him from his cross. No last minute appeal from death row,
just a cry for mercy. And it is mercy that Jesus granted him. Of course
Jesus could have saved the thief from his earthly consequences. Instead he promised eternal salvation.
often I find myself on a cross my own making. I battle the sins that
plague my human nature and lose more times than I win. The result of my
sin frequently leads to deep suffering and sorrow, feeling abandoned by God,
hopeless, and ultimately in despair. It is at exactly this time that I
must remember that while Jesus sometimes saves me from myself, there are
consequences for my actions here on earth. That doesn't mean God has
abandoned me, but instead that He loves me so much more. Instead of a
quick fix to my temporal problems, He offers me eternal redemption.
Easter, take a moment to focus not just on Christ's resurrection, but
on the thief who rose with him to glory. Both died that day, but
Christ's death overcame sin once for all. And in the end, that is the
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Earthly circumstances are small relative to the enormity of our salvation through Christ.
Heavenly Father, you love me with a love that is difficult for me to
comprehend. A love that doesn’t remove me from my circumstances, but
instead loves me regardless
of my circumstances. Help me truly understand that the gift of your Son
is better than sanctuary from any earthly pain, sorrow, or even
discipline. When I struggle, help me remember the best part of the
story, that someday I will be with you in paradise. Amen.
(Photo credit: fiftypercentchanceofrain)