Crosses. You see them everywhere. On houses of worship. On grave markers. As ornate pieces of jewelry worn as a necklace, bracelet or even earrings.
We celebrate the cross. We glamorize it. We even romanticize it. We all know what it means. It’s the symbol of Christianity. It represents salvation. It reminds us of Jesus.
Yet the cross was used by the Romans as a cruel means of capital punishment. It was a shameful death. A humiliating death. A painful death.
On that Friday Jesus was crucified there actually 3 men on 3 different crosses who made 3 different choices.
(1) There was a cross of rebellion. The man nailed to it deserved to die. He was a criminal. A sinner. A rebel against society. A law-breaker. He said to Jesus, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us” (Lk. 23:39). He obviously didn’t believe. Luke says he “blasphemed” Jesus. He was only concerned with saving his own skin. The man on that cross died in sin.
(2) There was a cross of repentance. This man also was an outlaw. A thief. A sinner who deserved to die. But he rebuked his fellow felon saying,
“Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” This thief admitted his sin.
Then he did something amazing. He turned to Jesus and called him “Lord.” And said, “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (Lk 23:40-42). How did he know about Jesus? Maybe he heard Him preach. Possibly he witnessed one of the miracles. Could he have even been one the sinners with whom Jesus mingled? We don’t know. But we know he believed. And Jesus saved him. He said, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise.” The man on that cross died to sin.
(3) There was a cross of redemption. Jesus died for both thieves. He did for the Jews who cried, “Crucify Him!” He died for religious leaders who enviously conspired to convict Him. He died for fearful Pilate. Hedonistic Herod. Cowardly Peter. Betraying Judas. And for a sinful man named Ken Weliever. And for you! The man on this cross died for sin.
That was Friday. Three men died on three crosses.
On Sunday. One man suffered in torment. The other man basked in the bosom of Abraham. And the third man returned to life. He arose from the grave. His victory was one over death. Sin. Satan. What a day Sunday was!
These three crosses, remind me that I, too, have three choices.
I’ve had “Friday’s” where I was the law-breaker. The rebel. The blasphemer.
I’ve also had “Friday’s” of contrition. Of repentance. Of atonement. Those days are made possible because of the man who died for sin. And because on Sunday the grave was empty.
When I arrive to worship this Sunday, may I remember who I am. Where I’ve come from. What I received from that man called Jesus. He gives me hope. And offers the invitation to be with Him in Paradise.
Thanks be to God for the cross of redemption. For Him who died for sin. For that fateful Friday. And For Sunday’s victory
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman