The Power of the Cross…
Even while Jesus hung on the cross, we see that He is truly the Son of God:
When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left… Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” -Luke 23:33-43
The Passion story stirs a number of emotions in all of us, but this verse is one that has always stood out at me. Here, one of the men crucified with Jesus insults Him; meanwhile, the other man realizes who Jesus is. He turns to Christ repentently and asks Jesus to remember Him when He gets to Heaven. Jesus’ response moves me every time I hear it, “Amen I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.“
One man is focused on this world and asks Jesus to save him from death. The other man only thinks of Heaven and simply asks Jesus to remember him. It was this act of faith that saved him. This man’s sins brought him to be crucified, yet Jesus still forgives. If this criminal can find salvation by turning his heart over to Jesus, then there is hope for all of us.
We are all sinners and fall short of deserving God’s mercy, but like the criminal crucified with Jesus, we can find salvation through the saving work of the cross. Today, Good Friday, we honor Christ’s sacrifice and the power of the cross. It is more than a mere symbol of our faith; the cross is truly the place where our faith begins.
Let me finish by saying that I felt unworthy to write today about the power of the cross. What words could I ever say or write that could truly describe that awesome power? Then, I realized something. This is very similar to God’s mercy on our lives. We are not worthy to receive God’s mercy, just as we are not worthy enough to describe it to anyone else. That is the beauty and power of the cross – it is more beautiful and more powerful than we could ever deserve, ever describe, or ever imagine.
May the power of the cross open your heart, give you hope, and utterly change your life. I know it changed mine.