It is again that time of the year in which we celebrate Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross on behalf of man. We recall that there were three crosses on Calvary, namely Jesus on the middle one and a condemned criminal on either side of Him. It remains an excrutiating, but vivid demonstration of how Jesus divides humanity. One of the criminals on the cross hurled insults at Him. The other criminal rebuked him and asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom (1).
- The one criminal is with Jesus in paradise. He is the man who became a billionaire in only a few hours - for billions of years he will never buy food or insurance; he will have no health problems or plan a holiday; he will be in Utopia for ever and much more: eternal life on the renewed planet earth, in the presence of the Lord, is worth many billions. Millions of Christians will honor Jesus for what He did on the Cross. Those people followed the criminal's example who asked to be remembered - he acknowledged that he was a guilty sinner and (in effect) repented.
- Millions of other people follow the example of the criminal who reviled Jesus. Today it is done individually and through the media who pour invective not only on Jesus, but also on His followers and on His Word, the Bible.
What can we learn from this? Almost 2000 years later, the division is still clear: some people love Him, and others hate Him (2). Could that mean that Jesus is real? If He was a myth, why does society not ignore Him? Why is He constantly vilified? We must be very blind not to notice the hostility towards Jesus, the Scriptures and the church. For example, atheists and evolutionists like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and the many others on the Web and in different publications and organizations still shout the same words as they did 2000 years ago: 'Crucify Him!' (3). They mocked Jesus, spat on Him, and struck Him on the head while He had the crown of thorns on (4). Islam is another example: they have no love for Jesus. It is forbidden in most Islamic countries to share the Gospel. Is Jesus a danger? No. He came not to condemn the world, but to save people from the eternal lake of burning sulfur. Jesus is only a grave danger to the devil, who controls the anti-Jesus sentiments and tries his best to foment unrest against Him. Many people think Jesus is a mythical figure (especially evolutionists who deny that there is an invisible, spirit world). Yet society is divided into two groups because of Him.
What does Jesus think about the division between people who love Him and hate Him? He can only cry about those who follow the criminal who hurled insults at Him on the Cross (5). That man is probably very sad that he parted company with his fellow criminal and rejected Jesus. His friend is resting in the safety of the arms of Abraham (6). May many people be reminded of his example this Easter and trust in the Lord.
- Luke 23:39-43
- Matthew 10:34-36
- Matthew 27:23; Mark 15:13
- Matthew 27:27-31
- Luke 23:39
- Luke 16:22-23