This Man Has Done Nothing Wrong

March 15th, 2018

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him...But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:39-43 (ESV)

There is very little room for ambivalence when we encounter Jesus. The cross in particular divides, demanding either rejection or acceptance of the Messiah. Jesus' crucifixion was one event in which this division was clear, with the criminals hanging on his right and left reacting to him in completely opposite ways. One man was determined to persist in his sin until death claimed him, reducing Jesus to the status of a genie he believed should save him from the consequences of his choices. The other man, however, acknowledged not only Christ's perfection and lordship, but also his own guilt. His exchange with Jesus displays the full message of the cross - that where there is true repentance for sin and acknowledgment of one's own insufficiency, grace is available.