By Jan Davis
“If you are the Christ, then rescue us all,” the thief ranted as he hung suspended high above the ground next to Jesus. Jesus remained silent.
“Shut up! Have you lost your mind?” The other criminal railed back to the loudmouth. Then he turned to Jesus and in humility pleaded, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Two thieves sentenced to death with different perspectives. One prideful the other humbled in the presence of Christ.
To the second, Jesus encapsulated true forgiveness. “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” and presented the thief with the gift of eternal life.
The soldiers, chief priests and onlookers slung hateful words of ridicule, mockery and scorn. “If you are the Son of God, then spare your own life. He saved others’ but cannot save himself. Descend from the cross and then we will believe.”
Hollow statements by arrogant individuals without any concept of the finality of their blasphemous words.
To those who despised, rejected and crucified him, he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they fail to comprehend what they do,” and became mankind’s intercessor.
He cried to his Father, “Why have you forsaken me?” And Jesus, who knew no sin, became man’s substitute.
“Into thy hands I commit my spirit,” He humbled himself and surrendered to the will of God.
Jesus’ example to those clustered around Golgotha was one of certainty as he looked beyond the pain and humiliation to a greater purpose.
Ten thousand angels awaited his call to aid, but he suffered and died alone. Abandoned by his closest friends and forsaken by God, he chose not to fight. He accepted death as the eternal price for sin.
At Jesus’ death, his heavenly father reacted, and darkness covered the earth. A great earthquake split the ground and people feared for their lives. The temple veil tore in two from the bottom to top as priests hid behind closed doors.
In an act of righteous wrath, God revealed the legitimacy of Christ to those who mourned his death. “Surely this man was the Son of God,” the centurion whispered.
Today, God does not protect Christians from hurt and pain, but equips us to press forward. Christ sent his Holy Spirit to influence our decisions.
When we react with malicious anger, we remove him from the situation. While others spread rumors, lies and hate about us, we are forced to make a choice. Answer in hatred or respond in love. We possess the unique opportunity to demonstrate Christ’s influence as we exhibit the fruits of his spirit — love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness and goodness.
With these attributes at work, God’s mercy and grace is activated. He meets out judgment on the guilty and speaks truth to the offense. He acts as our defender, advocate and mediator.
Because of Jesus, the words and actions of others fail to sideline us in our pursuit of eternal life. Therefore, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” — Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV).
I love you, but Jesus loves you more.
This column includes both fiction and nonfiction, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN. Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.