The Other Guy

The theme of a book I have read fairly recently is pretty much letting the cross be the forefront of what is done in life, in that good-thiefeverything about your life brings people back to the glory of Calvary. And as I was contemplating this piece, I realized that one thing I haven’t really spoken of in any other blog, is the cross. As the same book spoke of, we have the ability to be all God has purposed us to be and the opportunity receive all of Him and the riches of Heaven solely because of the cross, thus, to stay in theme it’s only appropriate to look at the back at Golgotha, the center of it all.

The gospels are special because they each offer different perspectives, yet are very coherent, and the experience on the bloody hill is no different. I have heard it once or twice, and I thought it was interesting, but it wasn’t until I happened to read it recently that it truly spoke to me.

Most are aware that there were three crosses, Jesus in the middle with two thieves on his sides, which is where my focus will be. When you read the first account in Matthew 27, the writer explains that both of the thieves were mocking Jesus and insulting him, which wasn’t unlike all else who were there questioning and doubting his power, authority, kingship, and deity because he was up on the cross, shamed, disgraced, humiliated, beaten/tortured so bad he had no resemblance of a man, and just bloody; little did they understand that it was his love that kept him on the cross, not their nails. Nevertheless, when you read Luke’s depiction of the story, you read something much different. Luke tells us that one of the robbers rebuked the other and confessed Jesus when he says “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And one of as one Jesus’ seven last words, he replies, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Yeah, so what’s the point?

Those three were on the cross for hours before dying, and in the beginning both robbers were prideful and belligerent, if not flat out denying who Jesus really was. I could only assume that they were familiar with him by the way they were making fun of him …or were they just trying to fit in or just going along with what many others there were saying in ignorance? I can’t answer that question, but I can say that after some time, maybe it was after hearing Jesus for God to forgive them, that one of the criminals decided to accept who he was and admit who Jesus was.

It was in that moment he took off his mask and came to grips with who he really was, after understanding who Jesus was, that he made the most important decision of his life. Like many of us we may be with Jesus looking at him for an extended period of time, but because of how the rest of world views him and what they say about him, we are reluctant, as was I. But something in that man’s heart changed, for he decided to be vulnerable before Jesus, relinquishing all his sin and whatever it was that was keeping him from really seeing Jesus. He decided to open up his heart before God, understanding his brokenness and failure, but acknowledging that the man beside him had the power to take all of who he was, in spite of all he was, and still restore and redeem him, and give him God’s best.

When I was reading this story, I was so taken back like WOW! I mean some people will be so close to Jesus and almost make it into Heaven like the other guy on the other cross, but as Brandy said, almost doesn’t count. It’s not until we acknowledge who we are, by first acknowledging who Jesus is, that we get access to all of Heaven’s best. God is waiting for each of us to take off the masks, stop fronting, and just be who we truly our before His feet, because we are broken, messed up, and wretched people. Yet, that is who God wants to use. The past doesn’t matter, for that is how we get to the cross in the first place, and it is there that the scars, bruises, hurts, mistakes, failures, and disappointments make God look so much more beautiful and prepare us for what He has for us. But we must be honest with him about who we really are, and as we let Him, He begins to chip away all that is not as He originally intended and can remold us to be as He designed. It is there we find freedom to walk in our true identities in Christ, in our thoughts, words, desires, dreams, passions, personalities, gifts, style, and actions, even if everyone else, like those who kept hurling insults, stay trapped in their normalcy, fears, misconceptions, and insecurities.

When you see Jesus, you will see yourself. When you get to know Jesus, you will come to know yourself, and it is then you can truly be yourself for a purpose and receive all of Heaven.

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