The Christian Church is now entering the season when the message of the Cross of Calvary will be greatly emphasized all over the world. Sermons will be preached; cantata’s will be sung; plays will be performed; greeting cards will be sent. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:1,2) Some will receive the message; others will reject this truth.
When the Lord Jesus Christ hung on the Cross of Calvary, it was between two thieves. Pilate gave the order that Jesus would be crucified between two criminals (malefactors); but Isaiah had prophesied 700 years earlier that God’s Son would be “numbered with the transgressors.” (53:12)
In fulfillment of the Scriptures, although inconceivable, we read in Matthew 27:38: “Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left.” Thus, Jesus was identifying with sinners condemned to death. Although He had no sin of His own, man’s sin would be imputed to Jesus, and He would die a sinner’s death, for us. (2 Cor. 5:21)
The two transgressors were equally near to Jesus, one on the right, the other on the left. Both of them witnessed what transpired during those horrendous six hours, while Jesus hung on the cross. Both were notorious criminals. Both were suffering severely; both were facing imminent death; both urgently needed forgiveness. But there was a tremendous difference in the way the two men responded to Jesus. One of them was belligerent, unrepentant, as he rejected Jesus. The other criminal was receptive, repentant, believed in Jesus, and called on Him for mercy.
The Bible says: “Then one of the criminals who was hanged blasphemed Him saying, ‘If you are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked him… and then said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’” Luke 23:39-43
This is exactly what happens today when the Word of God is preached. Two men can hear the same message of the Cross. One is moved to tears and the other remains unmoved. One hears with indifference, while the other’s eyes are opened to realize his need for a Savior.
To one the Gospel is revealed; to the other the Gospel is hidden, even though it is God’s will that “all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim 2:4) 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, ”The preaching of the cross is to them who perish foolishness, but to us which are saved, it is the power of God.”
Which is your response?