The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the
Land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12).
All of us who know Christ know what it was like to live in the darkness of sin. Our lives had no form, they were empty, just as the world was before creation. Just as in the beginning when God created natural light to dispel natural darkness, He created spiritual light in the person of His Son to destroy the darkness of sin. Just as the Holy Spirit hovered over a formless, empty and cold planet, so now He hovers over humanity calling us to Jesus, the light of the world. Peter said:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10.
Darkened, despairing, empty men and women, with lost identities, whose lives were lightless and lifeless, are called into “wonderful light” – the most wonderful light of all - light that Jesus gives – light that He alone can give.
And where does it begin? With forgiveness! Come to the cross and hear those first words resound in your own soul. Not the words of a desperate man for Jesus was not that, but the words of a man who suffered willingly on our behalf, who could have called ten thousand angels to set Him free, but didn’t! These are not the words of a mere man but the words of the Creator Himself. “Let there be light”, is a timeless decree that has not lost, nor ever will lose, its potency. The all-powerful One, the omnipotent One, decrees what John described as “the true light that lights every man” (John 1:9) into being. This is eternal life, abundant life, life separated forever from the life of darkness, sin, death and judgment.
Re-creation, redemption, begins with forgiveness. The first words from the cross open the human heart to the light of the gospel and new life begins. It all begins with forgiveness. Let repentance flow from your heart, let the darkness go! Let the light pour in!
The Second Saying: “Today, you will be with me in paradise” Luke 23:43
To whom does God offer forgiveness? Is it to the best amongst us? Is it to those who have met some preconditions? We get a small glimpse of love that is measureless and an ever so miniscule peek at God’s infinite reservoir of forgiveness, when we hear those second words from the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise”. We marvel at a man who, with disregard for His own immense pain, His own undeserved suffering, reaching out to a guilty man who deserved to die. A sinner, the severity of whose crimes we do not know but was judged by the Romans to be the worst, deserving of death on a cross, heard those sin forgiving, life imparting words that Jesus spoke. “Father, forgive them…!” Dare he believe those words could be for him? He took a first fledging step of faith that we all must take if we are to know the blessing and power of forgiveness. He asked Jesus to not forget him in his death but to remember him. That’s all he asked. He didn’t ask to go to heaven, just to be remembered in a manner different than everyone else would remember him. With no real understanding of the gospel, he simply asked to be remembered. A simple request? Maybe! But heaven heard it differently. Light was released! Darkness was dispelled! Forgiveness and the remission of sins were transacted. The righteousness of the man on the middle cross was credited to the account of the thief. The shout from the cross was heard from one end of heaven to the other. “Make way for another saint! Make way! Make way! No longer a sinner whose fate was sealed by a Roman Court, but, one who was forgiven…”Today, you will be with me in paradise!”