On Either Side

Our bodies are much like birdhouses.  They won’t last that long and with the passage of time they get rather battered, bruised and broken.  But our Lord looks at the inside to see what we have been storing up.  Like a bird leaving the nest, one day our spirit will leave this earthly body.

These three birdhouses bring to mind a story…

On either side of the cross, that Jesus died on, hung thieves on crosses of their own.  Each of these unnamed men were fully known by the Heavenly Father. Like Cain and Abel they were as different as night and day.  One man chose to shout insults at the Christ while the other refrained.

This is one of my favorite passages in the New Testament; and I hope that I can portray why in a way that does it justice.  Over a week ago I knew that I wanted to post about this; but it wasn’t until I watched a movie with my daughter, this week, that I knew that I must.

In the movie, a thief has been shot in the chest.  He appears to be dying and those he has harmed come to his aid.  In his last few sentences he asks them to forgive him and to take care of his little brother.  They promise to and offer to pray for him. He replies that he is beyond God’s forgiveness as he has done too much wrong in his life. This is where it gets really interesting.

But before I continue, I want to remind all of us that the Bible says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23  Every single one of us deserves what the two thieves on the crosses were getting.  During Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion”, I was startled as I looked up at the criminals on either side of Jesus and could truly see that my own scarlet sins deserved the same ending.  I, too, had contributed to the pain, shame, and blame that our Lord carried upon his own body – so that we might be washed white as snow!  Yet, he was without sin and I had a train load.

So, back to the movie that my daughter and I watched this week with the thief who was shot and dying.  In response to the criminal believing he was beyond forgiveness; his helpers told him about the following Bible passage:

“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, “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, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”    Luke 23:39-43

The thief in the movie understood this message of grace and chose to put his trust in what Jesus had already done for him and he died in peace rather than in enmity with God.

The thief in the Bible, too, chose to put his trust in Jesus and he entered paradise with the Lord, who was now his own Savior.  The Bible thief did not go to a special Sunday School class, or read a particular book, or even get baptized. I wouldn’t recommend waiting for a deathbed conversion; but it certainly brings things into perspective.  It is all about what Jesus did.

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow;  Isaiah 1:18 b

forgiven and free,


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