1 Corinthians 1:18
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Life is filled with countless choices, some mindless and mechanical, some thoughtful and intentional. Regardless, each choice places us on a path that alters our life and affects our eternal future. Stephen R. Covey wrote, “We are free to choose our actions, but we are not free to choose the consequences of these actions.”
As we read the narrative of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, we are provided with an opportunity to observe two men who make significantly different choices and the consequences of their choices. Luke 23:32-33 reads, “Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified Jesus there, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left.”
As the scene plays out, we read in Luke 23:35 that one of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Jesus. “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!.” This man had a choice to make. He could believe Jesus to be the Messiah that He was, or he could deny Jesus Christ was the Son of God.
Prideful to the end, this thief arrogantly and willfully chose to deny the sovereignty, authority and the power of Jesus Christ, as was his right and privilege. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing . . .” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
The second thief had a significantly different response and the consequences of his choice placed him on a distinctly different path. Luke 23:40-43 reads, “But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Repentance of the second thief brought an unexpected gift. “But to us who are being saved it (the cross) is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Two criminals are each faced with a choice and the unalterable consequences of their choices. One chose to deny Christ and, in so doing, eternally separated himself from God. The second man, with heart surrendered, receives grace as he is mercifully and utterly snatched from Satan’s grasp.
Father God, your word tells us that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We acknowledge that Jesus Christ is your only provision for our sin and that you demonstrated your own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We are grateful that you have provided us the opportunity to receive Christ through personal invitation. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (John 3:1-8). As we receive Jesus by faith, as an act of the will, we rejoice that you take away our sin, dress us in fine garments and place a clean turban on our head. We are humbled to be clothed in the spotless robe of Christ’s righteousness. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26). In Jesus’ name. Amen.