Luke 23: 32And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. 33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Consider all the pain Jesus went through, the cursing, spitting upon, slapping, scourging by hands of Roman soldiers, the crown of thorns as well as the shame and despair. Sentenced to death, he started a path out of his beloved Jerusalem carrying a cross. This was only the beginning. Of all times and of all people, he laid on the cross. Of all the thousands before him he was the only one innocent. He didn’t deserve to be there. He took all the ridicule and allowed himself to be fastened to a cross.
The thieves had no choice. Three men were to be executed that day. One was Barabbas. We don’t know if he was part of a band of thieves with the other two, but Rome was known for catching gangs of thieves and executing them all at one time. Praise God a Savior had come to save mankind. The only way for was him to take our place. Originally Jesus’ cross belonged to Barabbas. All three had been charged, proven to be murders and robbers guilty of insurrection against the Roman government. Caught and found guilty meant a sentence of death. Jesus was pushed upon Pilate, then Herod and back to Pilate. The crowd wanted Jesus to be public enemy Number 1. They wanted him put to death that very day. Think about the day in which we live. If you want to translate all the evil in our face every day, it is saying “crucify him; away with him; we want nothing to do with Jesus.” That’s the cry of the people today.
Pilate thought surely the people would choose Barabbas instead of Jesus if he put them both before them. He thought they had more sense than that. The whole crowd, moved by the Pharisees and Sanhedrin, wanted an airtight way to get rid of Jesus. That’s what the devil wants today. Get rid of Jesus. Give up your Bible, your church. Don’t listen. Nail it down today. My cross became Jesus’. My crown of thorns became his. The beating was mine. Carrying our sins was a heavy load. Only the Son of the Living God can save.
Surely the people would give Barabbas what he deserved. We would get what we deserve had Jesus not taken our place. There was Jesus standing before them having been sliced and torn apart. His eyes were swollen but he looked at the crowd. He saw the big tough people before him, the very image of what was wrong. If you want to rob, rob. If you want to kill, kill. The crowd yelled “give us Barabbas.” Pilate asked what he should do with the man Jesus. They yelled “crucify him!”
Don’t walk off with Barabbas. Carry the cross and follow Jesus even if it means up the mountain to Mount Calvary. Are we willing to do that? More than likely Barabbas went right back to sinning and is now in hell. The other thieves probably asked Barabbas to help them but he turned his back just like the devil will turn his back on you one of these days. One of the worst people around is the very one whose cross Jesus bore that day. Without Jesus we are all Barabbas. There is no such thing as being deeper in sin than another. All have sinned! Jesus told the religious people the harlot had a greater chance of making it to heaven than they did.
The people freed the ring leader but there is coming a time when the wicked will see judgment. They will wish they had been like the thief who turned to Jesus for mercy and forgiveness. When death came he went to paradise with Jesus.
Jesus was held by nails for Barabbas. They belonged to you and me too. That’s what the repentant thief realized. Neither thief wanted to be there. Who knows how many soldiers it took to actually nail them to the cross? Sin will nail you one way or another. Jesus was put on the middle cross and just laid down on that old rugged cross. It had to be rough; it was not meant as a place of comfort. Jesus opened his arms and hands. I wonder where his eyes looked while they nailed him. I think he may have looked at the two thieves. He also looked ahead at you and me. We were worth it to him so he let it happen. For six long hours he hung there. Both thieves railed against him. They mocked what the heard from the crowd saying “if you’re the son of God save us and yourself.” One began to have a change of heart.
How can people just stand with the crowd? The devil confuses everybody. I’d never want to go where murderers, terrorist, rapist and child molesters go but without repenting we’ll all be there, one big wad of paper that burns forever. The one thief told the other they were getting what they deserved but Jesus had done nothing wrong. Jesus has never done anything wrong. Never! There is so much going on in people’s lives, but never blame God. The thief asked Jesus to remember him. He didn’t understand much of anything about God but he knew Jesus was innocent. Jesus turned his head to the man. That’s all he could turn because their bodies were fastened to the cross. We must be fastened there one way or another. I choose to take the one Jesus took for me. If you’re saved, act saved. Don’t pull your nails out. Keep fastened to the Savior. He was not just remembered, the thief was with Jesus in paradise. He proved that no one needs go to hell. Be nailed to the cross Jesus bore.
The soldiers broke the legs of the thieves to hasten their death. The Sabbath was approaching. One died and went to hell; the other died and felt the hands of Jesus take him to paradise. It happened simply because he believed the man on the middle cross.
Does Jesus fudge or exaggerate? No. We have a choice every day. Jesus made a choice of us when he chose the cross. Don’t change your mind. Let yourself get as close to Jesus as you can. There’s always room to get a little closer.