To the Place of the Skull, they lead Christ for crucifixion. Christ, the only one ever to have been conceived by the Holy Spirit and purposed for a sinless life so He might die in substitution for the death we all would face, because of our individual sins, if it were not for His death. Christ, the one who passed through death and into life, giving us the promise of life.
One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
One man hurled abuse at Christ, sounding bitter, angry and well, hardened even, and especially, as he went through a horrible death. The other man rebuked him. He got it. He knew, he was a sinner and Christ wasn’t. He deserved his punishment and Christ didn’t. His heart was softened, even, and especially, as he went through a horrible death.
We’re all like one or the other of those men who were crucified along with Christ. We all, each and every one of us has been given something called freewill. It’s our option to choose what we believe and even why. The testimony of those two hearts hanging alongside the advocate before the Father for the sin of those who choose to believe, speaks volumes to me lately. It’s the testimony of that sinless heart, the love of God for mankind that’s the most amazing thing. And, we choose what, whom and why we believe. We’re free to do that. God made it so.
Maybe the hard-hearted man speaks to some of us and says drive on. Maybe it compels us to think a bit about being hard-hearted. I mean hard-hearted towards God and Christ. Maybe the man who rebuked and believed drives some to be hard-hearted just because. But just maybe the testimony of those two hearts can compel us to really think about it.
The one criminal dared to be different, didn’t he? He dared to believe, though in this life it was in his final moments, he had the promise that would become reality in very short order. They both did. One would die and perish (be without God) and the other would die and live, in the presence of God. That’s why Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, didn’t sin, died and rose again. It is God’s promise that Christ completes.
The testimony of two hearts and the heart of God.
But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:8-10 NASB