by DJ Martin (SingleFocus Ministry®)

It was just an ordinary day in the life of a criminal…or was it? After being found guilty, his trial was recessed until the next afternoon as the judges reconsidered the case overnight. At least 37 votes convicted him, and sentence was deferred until sunset. But this ordinary day in the life of a criminal was the day that his sentence would be carried out. He was most likely not a Roman citizen, for his sentence was the dreaded most awful, horrific and shameful which was reserved for foreigners who were violent criminals and robbers. He was a thief and sentenced to death by crucifixion on what to him must have been an ordinary day in the descending life of an ordinary convicted criminal.  But how is it that this particular criminal… this thug was chosen to die on this day?  He was stripped and tied to a post where he was beaten by two soldiers with leather straps which had bones or iron balls on the end. Then they made him carry his own crossbeam upon his shoulders all the way to Golgotha’s Hill, wearing the sign around his neck, declaring his guilt. The sign would later be clearly displayed over his head (Matthew 27:37) after they nailed him to the wooden cross.  There he was: naked and his shame and guilt exposed for all to see… including the Son of God.

Who was this thief (Matthew 27:38)? Who was he to have been chosen to hang on the cross within speaking distance to the only begotten Son of God?    Clearly he was not just another ordinary thief. I’m sure that it was not because he performed great things for God or gave to charity or had been baptized.   Surely he was a picture of those for whom Christ died.  He was a recipient of the grace of God. This man was guilty of a crime worthy of death (“for the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23(KJV)).” There he was; a part of a clear illustration of the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).  There he was; confessing that he was guilty,   worthy of his punishment and acknowledging that Christ was the sinless sacrificial Lamb of God : “And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss (Luke 23:41(KJV)). ” Then he acknowledged that Christ was the Son of God: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom (Luke 23:42(KJV)).” And now, this ordinary criminal became a part of an extraordinary event: though sentenced to die, he received salvation and eternal life; “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in Paradise (Luke 23:43(KJV)).”

Too many tend to be like the second criminal.  He was guilty and dying for his offence, in the presence of one who could give him a home in paradise, but he continued to be ordinary.  Arrogant and scornful to the very end, he made no confession of guilt, but appeared to think that Christ was just an ordinary good man who exaggerated his ability.  This thief was an ordinary sinner looking for any other way to escape the consequence of his actions (Luke 23:39); not realizing that the only way he could be saved is to acknowledge the ransom paid by God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

 After Adam and Eve paved the way for everyone being born a sinner destined to suffer the consequences of their guilt, God, our heavenly Father, dispatched His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to make our bond, but like the other thief, some people refuse to accept the fine paid.  Instead many follow man-made plans and devices.  They trust in delusional and irrational theories, and follow philosophers of demonic doctrine.  Instead of simply acknowledging the price paid by Jesus Christ, some devise their own plans for redemption by meditation; chanting some nice sounding script; giving money to someone who promises riches in return; lobbying politicians; or praying to some man or woman whose bones have already been eaten by worms.  There are others who think that they can eat their way to heaven or abstain (1Timothy 4:1-3) their way to eternal life.  Yet, at Calvary, there on Golgotha’s Hill, this seemingly ordinary thief, hanging on a cross, taught us the extraordinary lesson that Salvation and Eternal Life is truly simple: acknowledge His deity and accept the ransom paid by Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God our heavenly Father (John 3:16).

You’ve probably tried all the hard things which give you an illusion of Self Righteousness, yet you are without salvation assurance. Why not try Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9)?  What Do You Have to Lose?  Christ has paid it all and like the thief who hung there beside Jesus Christ, you too have been chosen for an extraordinary day!

 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16

That’s Today’s SingleFocus…

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