2007-08-07 - The Cross
Luke 23:39 - And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
We are so very critical of this thief but how many times have we acted just like this thief?
Look at what he did. It is exactly what we do. He got himself in to a mess then expected salvation. God save me from this trial I'm going through. "Well yes Lord I was doing 95 and had been drinking but save me from this mess anyway." "God you know I needed help on that test and Billy's answers were right there. Don't let this F keep me from getting into a good school." "Yes I know I shouldn't have snuck out of the house but please save me from my parents." "I did what any man would have done in this situation. Don't let my wife leave me." Sometimes we will not even admit our guilt; we just want God to be the mighty Mr. Fix-It. This thief dared to tell God to save him not on Jesus' terms but on his own.
See that small two letter word in this thief's statement - if. He also asked full of doubt rather than faith. He demanded proof. Wasn't proof one of the temptations by Satan while Jesus was in the wilderness? Wasn't proof what the rich man asked Abraham and Lazarus to provide for his family? Jesus could have done a million things but this man was too blind to see them. It's almost funny; but it is very sad. This man was so close. He asked the Savior for salvation but totally missed it. If only he had come in faith and said, "You are the Christ; save yourself and me." I wonder what would have happened.
This thief also came with his own terms; he wanted physical salvation right then and there. "Get me down from this cross right now." That wasn't God's plan. He came to give us eternal life. He came to free us from sin not merely sin's debt.
How many times have we gotten ourselves into a pickle then cried to Jesus save me from this? How many times have we expected Christ to save us from some physical or financial trouble without recognizing his intent is to save us from ourselves? How many times have we asked Jesus to save us from anything on our own terms?
Now look at the other thief's words to Jesus. They are so very different.
Luke 23:42 - And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
This thief did not ask Jesus to save him on his terms. He was content knowing however Jesus would remember him would be good. He had no doubt. He called Jesus his Lord.
Which thief are you when you speak to God? And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven. thy will be done. (Luke 11:2) How we approach the man on the cross in the middle makes all the difference.