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The Three Crosses On Calvary

In the latter half of the 1800ís there was a small man with a huge voice who was a master of the stage. His name was Edwin Thomas. At age 15 he debuted in Richard III, and from then on he became well known as a premier Shakespearean actor. He performed Hamlet in New York for 100 consecutive nights. The British critics in London sang his praises. Edwin Thomas was a master of tragedy on stage.

Unfortunately, his life was all too similar to his stage persona. Tragedy was his trademark. Edwin had two brothers who were also actors, John and Junius. In 1863 the three brothers performed Julius Caesar. The fact that brother John portrayed the role of Brutus, Caesarís assassin, was an ironic twist that foreshadowed what would happen just 2 years later.

You see, in 1865, John became a real life assassin. On a crisp April night, he stole into a rear box in Fordís Theater and fired a bullet at the head of Abraham Lincoln. Edwin Thomas and John Wilkes both shared the same last name, Booth.

After that night Edwin was never the same. Shame from his brotherís crime drove him to an early retirement. He likely would never have returned to the stage if it werenít for a twist of fate in a New Jersey train station. Edwin was awaiting his coach when a well-dressed young man, pushed by the swell of the crowd, lost his footing and fell between the platform and a moving train. With little regard for his own personal well-being, Edwin locked a leg around a rail, grabbed the man and pulled him to safety. Amid the sighs of relief, the young man recognized the famous Edwin Booth. But Edwin didnít recognize the famous young man heíd rescued. It was only weeks later, in a letter from the chief secretary to Ulysses S. Grant that he learned that He had saved the life of Robert Todd Lincoln, the child of an American hero, Abraham Lincoln. Booth carried that letter in his vest pocket to his grave.

Isnít it ironic! Edwin Thomas and John Wilkes Booth. One killed the president, the other saved the presidentís son. Same father, mother, profession and passion-yet one chooses to give death, the other to give life. How could it happen? I donít know exactly, but I can offer at least a broad overview. It wasnít only one choice that made the difference, but a series of choices, a pattern and direction for each of their lives that determined how they would turn out. For everything they had in common, the one thing that marked their differences was the path they chose to take with their life. It was the difference between life and death.

This morning I want us to think about a choice that each of us must make. How you choose will determine the course of your life. Even more importantly, the Bible clearly portrays that the choice you make will determine your eternal destiny. It is a life or death matter that we ponder this morning, and the difference in where we end up is determined by the choice we make concerning Jesus Christ,