Saturday, September 22, 2012
Pardoned to Paradise!
By Rick Blumenberg /
Two men asked Jesus for help on a barren hillside called Golgotha. One received pardon but the other received not a word. The verbal attack of the one showed the condition of the heart was more important than the actual words, because truth spoken in derision can be the worst kind of insult.
"Aren't you the Christ?" The dying thief asked in mockery. And his attitude of scorn destroyed a request for salvation: “Save yourself....and us!" he spat with obvious contempt. The insulting thief found nothing but silence from the King of Kings, while the other found words of assurance and victory. It was the attitude of the repentant thief that earned a pardon.
The first expression of that attitude was deep conviction of sin: "Don't you fear God since you are under the same sentence?"
The repentant thief was about to stand before God, his Creator and give an account of his life. He realized in despair all he had to show was his sin. Perhaps the very thought of seeing his sin revealed in God's holy presence brought conviction for sin.
The second expression of that saving attitude was honest confession of guilt: "We are punished justly," he said, “We are getting what our deeds deserve." Like the prodigal son of whom Jesus earlier spoke, the thief came to himself. He stopped trying to blame his guilt on someone else. And that was the only way he could be rid of it.
The third expression of that attitude was a full awareness of the Holiness of Christ: "This man has done nothing wrong!"
One reason Jesus came to our world was to show us the character of God in the body of a man. He is the perfect likeness of the invisible God. But, until we recognize the holiness of Jesus, the man, we cannot imagine the holiness of God, the Creator, and we cannot experience his holiness in our own lives.
The fourth expression of the attitude that brought pardon was an expression of faith in the midst of hopelessness: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Picture the scene: Hanging on a cross in the hour of his death the repentant thief looked beside him to Jesus and saw a man beaten, wounded, and bleeding. The blood from the crown of thorns was dried on his forehead, and fresh blood from the nails dripped from his hands and ran down his arms and torso to the sword-cut in his side continuing on down to mingle with blood from his nail-pierced feet and fall beneath him to the earth below. Sweaty from the strain of carrying the cross, the dust raised by countless feet had settled on his body. Chilled from the wind that blew upon Golgotha, he probably shivered violently from the cold. He did not look like a king. There was no indication he could even help himself much less anyone else. But in spite of all the evidence to the contrary this condemned man believed!
In the face of hopeless despair, he believed. He believed so much that even in his agony he groaned those never-to-be-forgotten words, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
That man was the first Christian! He was first to believe and first to receive the pardon Jesus came to bring.
Pardon is a beautiful word to a condemned man. "Today, you will be with me in paradise!” This word from Jesus transported him from the agony of crucifixion to the bliss of eternal paradise; from the dirt and stench of execution to the inexpressible delight of resurrection, from the destruction of sin to the righteousness of redemption.
Because of what God did through Jesus Christ almost two thousand years ago, by faith we can still hear him speak words of forgiveness and hope when we honestly seek Him.
I’m Rick Blumenberg, and that’s “My View from Tanner Creek”.