Summary: God loves us enough to make our own choice about accepting him.
“I Will Let You Choose.”
God’s Promise through the Two Crosses
Tonight I would like to start off by telling you the story of Edwin Thomas, a master of the stage. During the later half of the 1800’s, this small man with a huge voice had few rivals. In London he won the approval of the tough British critics. When it came to playing a tragedy on stage, Edwin Thomas was in a select group. When it came to tragedy in life, the same could be said as well.
Edwin had two brothers, John and Junius. Both of them were actors. In 1863, the three siblings united their talents to Performa Julius Caesar. For this John who played the assassin in Julius Caesar is the same John who took the role of the assassin in Ford’s Theatre. On a crisp April night in 1865, he walked quietly into the rear of a box in the Washington Theater and fired a bullet at the head of Abraham Lincoln. Yes, the last name of the brothers was Booth. Edwin Thomas Booth and John Wilkes Booth.
Edwin was never the same after that night. Shame from his brother’s crime drove him into retirement. He might never have returned to stage had it not been for a twist of fate at a New Jersey train station. Edwin was awaiting his coach when a well-dressed young man lost his footing and fell between the platform and a moving train. Without hesitation, Edwin locked a leg around the boy and grabbed the young man, and pulled him to safety. After a sigh of relief the young man recognized the famous Edwin Booth.
Edwin however didn’t recognize the young man that he had rescued. The knowledge came weeks later in a letter, from General Ulysses S. Grant. A letter thanking Edwin Booth for saving the life of a child of an American hero, Abraham Lincoln. How ironic that while one brother killed the President, the other brother saved the President’s son? The boy that Edwin booth yanked to safety was Robert Todd Lincoln. Edwin and James booth. Same father, mother, profession, and passion- yet one chooses life the other chooses death. Though their story is dramatic, it’s not unique.
Abel and Cain, both sons of Adam. Abel chooses God. Cain chooses murder. And God lets him. Lot chooses Sodom, Abraham chooses God. David, and Saul both kings of Israel. David choose God, Saul chooses power. And God lets him. Peter and Judas both deny Jesus. Peter seeks mercy, Judas seeks death. And God lets him. In every age of history of every page of Scripture, the truth is revealed: GOD ALLOWS US TO MAKE OUR OWN CHOICES.
According to Jesus we can choose
A narrow gate or a wide road. (Matt. 7:13-14
We can choose to
Build on rock or sand. (Matt 7:24-27)
Serve God or riches. (Matt 6:24)
God gives eternal choices, and those choices have eternal conflicts. Isn’t this the reminder of Calvary’s trio. Every wonder why that there are two crosses next to Christ. Could is be that the two crosses on the hill symbolize one of God’s greatest gifts…..The gift of choice. The two criminals have so much in common. Convicted by the same system. Condemned to the same death. Surrounded by the same crowd. Equally close to Jesus. In fact even with the same sarcasm: “The two criminals also said cruel things to Jesus” (Matt. 27-44).
But one changed.
Read Luke 23:39-43
But while we rejoice at the thief who changed, dare we forget the one who didn’t. Jesus gave both criminals the same choice. There are times when God sends thunder to stir us. There are times when God sends blessings to bless us. But then there are times when God sends nothing but silence as he honors us with the freedom to choose where we spend eternity.
And what an honor it is. In so many areas of our life we have no choice. Think about it. You didn’t choose your gender. You didn’t choose your siblings. You didn’t choose your race of place of birth.
It would have been nice if God had let us order life like we order a meal. I’ll take good heath and a high IQ. I’ll take a side order of music skills, and a fast metabolism. Would’ve been nice, but it didn’t happen. When it came to your life on earth, you weren’t given a voice or a vote.
But when it comes to life after death, you were. That seems like a great deal wouldn’t you agree. Have we been given any greater privilege than that of choice? Not only does this privilege offset any injustice, the gift of free will can offset any mistakes.
Think about the thief who repented. Though we know little about him we know that he chose the wrong crowd, the wrong morals, the wrong behavior. But would you consider his life a waste. In the end all his bad choices were redeemed by a solitary good one.