Originally scheduled for September 29
In Luke’s account of the Crucifixion we are
reminded that there are three crosses on the hill of Calvary that
day. Two thieves were crucified along with Jesus. The contrast
between the two is instructive. Both of them, if you recall,
recognized that Jesus is the Christ. The first thief is a very
recognizable person in our time: he’s the one who’s mad at God.
After all, he’s right next to the Messiah — you would think that
being so close he could get Jesus to take care of his little
problems, just by demanding it. His focus is entirely upon himself;
the dying Christ is simply a means to an end, in his mind. What he
wants is simple: he wants Jesus to get him out of this mess, right
now, so he can go back to being himself. He puts himself first from
start to finish. Such a man is often surprised by the silence of
The second thief is a more noble person. To
begin with, he admits his guilt. In the context of punishment of
that time, he knows he’s getting what he deserves. It’s not God’s
fault; it’s his own fault. He knows it and he admits it. Most of us
will eventually get to that point, but he goes beyond it. He also
acknowledges the righteousness of Christ, which we often fail to do.
It is not just that I am a sinner; it’s that I am a sinner and he is
In that context he makes a simple request:
“remember me.” This shows us a profound, even eloquent trust in the
Lord. He makes no specific request. He does not pretend to know what
is best, but rather he trusts that God will provide what is best for
him. Our Lord, in reply, tells him that “today you will be with me
It is a paradox. If you start out by looking
out for number one, letting God know that you expect him to take
care of you and follow your good advice, you’ll wind up with
nothing. If you turn your problems over to God, stating your heart’s
desire but submitting to his will, you may be surprised at how much
God will do for you. This is particularly true if you approach him
with a contrite heart.
Therefore, as you approach the Lord’s Supper,
do so with that contrite heart. Admit your sins; acknowledge his
righteousness; repent of your sins. Then commit your ways to him,
and trust in him with all your heart.
The two thieves had an advantage over us. They
saw the price that Christ had to pay for the redemption of mankind.
It was played out right in front of their eyes. Even then, one of
them did not trust nor repent. We cannot see, except with the mind’s
eye, the crucifixion of Christ. Yet it is real, the price paid for
our salvation. We cannot see, except with the mind’s eye, the
paradise that is waiting for us. Yet it is real, for those who
accept their salvation. Remember these things, and take this
communion in a manner which befits the pure and contrite heart.