Here we see that the Lord has been taken away to Golgotha to web nailed to the stake along with two criminals. But even while Thais is occurring the Lord provides lessons for those who were there and for us also. Even the criminals give us a lesson that we can learn from.
The Lords Compassion
Although Jesus was dying, he still showed his compassion for the people, including those who had done this evil deed. He prayed to the Father while dying saying the words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
He could have ranted and railed at the people, but instead he sought their forgiveness from the Father. He knew that this was to be his lot and that it was for this purpose that the Lord had come, so he be sought the Father asking that this sin not be held against them. Later we see the people repent under the preaching of Peter when they recognize what they have done. Peter tells them to repent and be baptized for forgiveness, and the killing of the Lord was not held against them.
This is a great lesson for us on love. Jesus loved the world and showed his love by not holding this against the people. Likewise God loved the world and similarly did not hold these things against the people either.
The Criminals Conversation
When we see Jesus with the two criminals nailed on either side of him, we see an interesting conversation take place. One of the criminals harangues Jesus moving him and saying to him that if qhe is really the Christ, then he should get them all down.
However the other criminal recognizes the wrong that has been perpetrated against Jesus. He speaks back and defends the Lord against the harassment of the other criminal and explains to him the injustice of the situation in no uncertain terms. He shows the other man that the two of them are being put to death for their crimes against the community. They deserved to die. But he also recognized that Jesus was righteous and had done nothing wrong.
Then we see the interesting remark made by Jesus to this criminal. The criminal says to him, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” and Jesus responds saying to the criminal who had defended him, “Truly I say to you this day you will be with me in paradise.”
Entry into Paradise
What is so fascinating about Jesus response is that this criminal deserved to die. And yet at the very last hour he recognized Jesus power and repented of his sin. And he was accepted. Jesus accepted him for the little faith that he had, despite his former life as as sinner who had committed such crimes as deserving of death.
Entry into God’s kingdom does not require a lot of faith. You certainly do not have to be perfect as this example shows. But what is required is a repentant heart and a desire to do what is right. I certainly would not leave it until the eleventh hour as this man did, but it is clear that there is not a lot required to gain acceptance into the Lords kingdom.
There will be a time afterwards when the man will need to go through the process of being purified so he can stand in God’s kingdom, but initial acceptance does not demand a lot. Just a repentant heart and a belief that the Lord will save you.
Indeed when you consider what the disciples were told to preach as part of the Great Commision, it was to preach the gospel, baptise the converts and to teach them the words of Jesus. So the process for acceptance was not and even today is not onerous. But the oprah to perfection, which is where we are headed as Christians, is a long and difficult journey. It is the narrow path that is hard to find. But this is different to the criteria for acceptance as the bar is set quite low to be accepted by the Lord.
(Photo sourced from Stock.Xchange www.sxc.hu taken by SCapture)