Friday, May 9, 2014

The Third Man

Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. (Matthew 27:38 KJV)

When The Rochester Family was here, they sang “Three Men On A Mountain.” That second thief’s story gives me hope.

Now, Matthew tells us:

Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. (Matthew 27:41-44 KJV)

I don’t know why Luke was inspired to tell us more detail:

And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:39-43 KJV)

I do not doubt Matthew and Mark’s view of both thieves, nor do I doubt Luke’s detail of the one coming to understand that the man in the middle was not like them. He saw enough of Jesus to believe there would be a kingdom, though they were dying. I believe Jesus’ commitment that we shall see that thief in paradise, too.

This is why I can hope that someone who lived a sin filled life without acknowledging God to my satisfaction is as this one thief who waited until his dying moment to believe. I can hope such a person did, with death so near, believe.

The Bible is clear on what God requires of us as we ask the question Micah put into words:

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? (Micah 6:7 KJV)

Each one of us must spend time with the Lord, get to know Him and what He has for us as individuals, though Micah also had the bottom-line answer for mankind:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8 KJV)

Which ties in so closely with the prioritization I posted from Jesus so many times:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV)

The third man made that choice late in life, but it wasn’t until the very end. I can't help but think about what he missed out on by not following Andrew, Peter, James, John and others when they went to Jesus. Perhaps then we would know his name. Still, I am given hope by his witness that he believed Jesus would have a kingdom and that he could be a part of it. I am given assurance by Jesus' response.

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