Today when we come to communion, we come to the cross. A song is sung. A passage read. Often we’re asked to remember Jesus and visualize Him hanging on the cross.
While we glamorize, romanticize, and celebrate the cross, the crucifixion was a shameful, humiliating, and painful means of capital punishment for the worst of criminals.
However, it’s also good to remember there were three crosses on Golgotha’s hill that day. Each has a message for us.
(1) The 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 was an unbeliever and blasphemed Jesus. The man on that cross died in sin.
(2) The cross of repentance. This man also was an outlaw. A thief. And a sinner. But he rebuked his fellow felon saying, admitting they deserved to die. But Jesus had done nothing wrong.
Amazing, he turned to Jesus, called him, “Lord,” asked to be remembered when “you come into your Kingdom (Lk. 23:40-42). We don’t know how we knew about Jesus or the Kingdom, but he believed. And Jesus said, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise.” The man on that cross died to sin.
(3) The cross of redemption. Jesus died for both thieves. He died 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. Jesus died for sin.
Today when I come to cross and take communion, I’m reminded of the first cross. I, too, have been the lawbreaker. Rebellious. The rebel. The blasphemer.
Thankfully, I’ve also known the cross of contrition. Repentance. And atonement.
Then at look the third cross and remember who I am. Where I’ve come from. What I’ve received. And I see God’s love, grace, and mercy.
Indeed, Alexander MacLaren was right when he wrote, “The cross is the center of the world’s history; the incarnation of Christ and the crucifixion of our Lord are the pivot round which all the events of the ages revolve.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman