Summary: Each of the crosses on Calvary represent something very important about the death of Christ.
The Three Crosses On Calvary
In the latter half of the 1800’s 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, Caesar’s 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 Ford’s 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 brother’s crime drove him to an early retirement. He likely would never have returned to the stage if it weren’t 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 didn’t recognize the famous young man he’d 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.
Isn’t it ironic! Edwin Thomas and John Wilkes Booth. One killed the president, the other saved the president’s son. Same father, mother, profession and passion-yet one chooses to give death, the other to give life. How could it happen? I don’t know exactly, but I can offer at least a broad overview. It wasn’t 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, the Son of God.
Text: Luke 23:32-43
Most of the time when we think of the cross of Calvary, we are pretty much focused on the cross that held Jesus. However, there wasn’t just one cross that day, not only a solitary death by crucifixion. Have you ever wondered why there were two other crosses next to Jesus on the hill called Golgotha that day? Have you ever pondered the significance of the fact that Jesus was placed in the center, between two thieves sentenced to death for their crimes against society?
Well, I can’t say for sure, but it seems to me that the crosses on each side of Jesus in a very real way represent the ultimate choice that you and I must make. How you choose determines not only the way you will live your life on earth, but where you will spend eternity.
On one side of Jesus stood what we might call the cross of rebellion. Notice verse 39, "One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ’Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’" It wasn’t enough that Jesus had been convicted of crimes he didn’t commit. It wasn’t enough that he had been beaten to within an inch of His life. The fact that his clothes had been divided up among the soldiers and he had been nailed to a wooden cross seems too much to bear. But now, hanging between the earth and the sky, with insults flying from the passers by, even one of the men being crucified with Him is hurling insults his direction.