Summary: To share that Easter is about forgiveness and we can receive it through the Risen Savior.
Every Easter it seems we really focus on Jesus Rising from the Tomb. After all that¡¯s what it¡¯s all about right? That He beat death and won the victory for us. As powerful as this is, I want our attention to back up a bit and look at an often overlooked portion of the Easter Story.
Let¡¯s take a closer look at the Thief:
When Jesus was being crucified, two men were being crucified with Him at the same time. These are two thieves.
A conversation takes place between one of the thieves and Jesus; in Luke 23:42, 43: 42 Then he said, ¡°Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.¡±
43 Jesus answered him, ¡°Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.¡±
Youth Drama: ¡°Thief¡±
At first it seems like a very simple and quick repeat of so many Jesus related biblical events, ¡°human meets Jesus ¨C human is humbled by Jesus ¨C Jesus loves human ¨C Jesus saves human¡± except this event only takes up two sentences. It¡¯s not surprising the majority of preachers and teachers skim the surface of this conversation, there seems to be very little revelation here.
But when you dig deep, there is a message in it that needs to be shared. First, let¡¯s realize that the crucifixion of Jesus is THE single most important event in the relationship between God and humanity. The crucifixion of Jesus is the ultimate ¡°it¡± of all time, it is the moment of blood, sacrifice and salvation, and it¡¯s the moment the Son of God is put to death so we may live. The crucifixion is why wars are fought and it is the event etched into millions of stained glass windows and ornaments all around the world. Why share ¡°it¡± with a thief? Or two?
God is sharing the ¡°it¡± moment with a thief and once we realize who the thief is, it actually makes perfect sense.
So¡who is the thief on the cross next to Jesus?
The thief on the cross is everyone YOU don¡¯t like, for whatever reason. He is the person who cut you off in traffic and you cursed them out, he is the family member who ruins family get-togethers by drinking too much and becoming belligerent, and he is the parent who beat you up deserted you.
The thief on the cross is the grossly overweight person you stared at when they made their third round trip to the buffet tables¡ and he is the super skinny girl who wears a size ¡°0¡å and who obviously has an eating disorder.
The thief on the cross is the politician you don¡¯t agree with, the talk show host you despise, the real estate agent who ripped you off, the preacher you say is wrong, the pop star who dresses too this or that, the woman who is having an affair with your husband, the bully at school, the homosexuals down the street, and all the people who go to the wrong church.
The thief on the cross is all of your least favorite people in the world, everyone you argue with, everyone you judge, everyone you judge worthy of death. The thief on the cross is everyone you hate.
And you know what else? The thief on the cross is also everyone you DO like as well.
Not only do we humans judge people down, we also judge people up. You prefer to hang out with this person instead of that one, you prefer this parent over the other one, you like this child better than that one, and this cousin is your favorite cousin. You choose this person to be your spouse instead of someone else, you gave that homeless person money but not the other, you like this preacher better than any other, and you prefer this president over that one.
The thief on the cross is your son, your daughter, you mother and father, your best friend, your favorite teacher, and your favorite pop star or actor.
The thief on the cross is all of your favorite people in world, everyone you laugh with, everyone you are grateful for. The thief on the cross is everyone you love.
The reality is that the thief on the cross is you and you are the thief on the cross. The thief on the cross is all of humanity.
Jesus is sharing the crucifixion ¡°it¡± moment with the thief on the cross because the thief on the cross is you. Jesus and you are on the cross together.
This single act teaches us all about Sacrifice and Salvation, all about Love and Forgiveness. And When Jesus rose from the tomb; this proved it all to us.
Jesus paid the price, He did all the work for us but what is it that we must do? I think the story of the thief on the cross is a powerful story that really depicts our lives and what we must do in order to receive the eternal gift.