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Posts Tagged ‘thief on the Cross’

St. Luke 23:  And (Jesus)  said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

We’ve looked for love in all the wrong faces.  We’ve looked for salvation in all the wrong faces.  In the mirror, on the TV, in a glossy magazine, on the internet, in courts of public opinion, in politics.  The human face is a powerful attraction.  There was nothing in His face to attract, He had no comeliness that we would desire Him, preached Isaiah 500 centuries before Golgotha. 

 He was despised and rejected by men;   a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows  (Isaiah 53)

The image of His face is our salvation. 

 It is written that the Lord created the man and woman in His own image, in His own image He did make them. The Hebrew word for image in the Bible does not mean a flat and two dimensional picture,  but an exact copy, kind of like a statue but more:  living.  He came to breath life into us again. His face is not a flat and two dimensional, but perfect in mercy, 3 dimensional and more:  in time and in His time, the exact image, icon of the invisible God, visible on the Cross to two thieves and those who mocked Him and whom He forgave.  They did not know they were killing the author of Life. 

 The thief on His left wanted to get off his just sentence of the Law.  He wanted to be excused.  The thief on Jesus’ right knew they both had it coming but not the One in the middle, He did no wrong.  Both of these evil doers knew about Jesus and His preaching of the reign of God and so did the one thief who wanted to be left off the hook.  The criminal on Jesus’ right knew he could not be excused but he and the other thief were justly accused. The Law of God justly accuses us and always. The thief on Jesus’ right repented and asked for forgiveness.  Jesus turned His face toward him, the face of our salvation.  This is the face of our Savior.  Image is everything it was said in the TV commercial.  In a sense this is true.  The image of Jesus is not 2 dimensional but 3 dimensional,  and more:  encompassing us all in His love, ‘…the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3).  Image in the world is to sell stuff. The image of the face of Christ does not sell us anything but has bought us all for a price, His precious blood, as we were sold out to sin, death and power of the devil.

 He said, Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom. In the four Gospels people call upon Jesus as “Lord”, “rabbi”, “teacher”:   this is the only time in all four of the Gospels that anyone calls Him by His first Name:  Jesus and it’s on Golgotha, the place of the skull.   Luke alone tells us that the angel Gabriel told the virgin Mary, you will have a son, the Son of the most High and His Name shall be Jesus.  Jesus means God saves.  God saves…and the man in the middle cross, in the midst of depths of the world, the valley of the shadow of death, His cross becomes the door of our salvation.  I am the door, said Jesus.  There is a popular song with the verse, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom, as it’s only lyric.  It is repeated as kind of a mantra. One problem with it:  it never gets to the good part, Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise. That song never gets to the good portion, His Word to you, His Word of absolution, which will not be taken away, as Jesus said to Martha as Mary knelt at His feet learning His Word.  Today is the day of salvation always, as long as it is called today.  Enter into His rest and give it a rest, your burdens of heart, soul, mind and body. Truly.

 We are never closer to God than when we are on our knees confessing His Name, Jesus.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2) We knee and bow to confess our sins, to receive His Body and Blood, to praise Him, to proclaim Him the Lord to the glory of God the Father. Amen. 

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COLLECT OF THE DAY

Almighty God, graciously behold this Your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and delivered into the hands of sinful men to suffer death upon the cross; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

READINGS: 

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Psalm 22 (antiphon: v. 1)

or Psalm 31 (antiphon: v. 1)

 Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9

John 18:1-19:42

or John19:17-30

GRADUAL      (Heb. 9:12a, c, 15a; Ps. 111:9a)

[Christ] entered once for all into the holy places, by means of I his own blood,* thus securing an eternal redemption.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new I covenant,*

so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal in heritance. He sent redemption to his I people;*

he has commanded his covenant for- I ever.

I am shut in so that I cannot escape; my eye grows dim through I sorrow. Every day I call upon you, O LORD; I spread out my I hands to you. For my soul is full of I troubles,*

and my life draws near I to Sheol.

VERSE:

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  (Is. 53:4)

But if any honest Christian wants to know why the Lord suffered death on the cross and not in some other way, we answer thus: in no other way was it expedient for us, indeed the Lord offered for our sakes the one death that was supremely good. He had come to bear the curse that lay on us; and how could He “become a curse” otherwise than by accepting the accursed death? And that death is the cross, for it is written “Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree.” Again, the death of the Lord is the ransom of all, and by it “the middle wall of partition” is broken down and the call of the Gentiles comes about. How could He have called us if He had not been crucified, for it is only on the cross that a man dies with arms outstretched? Here, again, we see the fitness of His death and of those outstretched arms: it was that He might draw His ancient people with the one and the gentiles with the other, and join both together in Himself.  even so, He foretold the manner of His redeeming death, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Myself”  Athanasius of Alexandria

Reflection:  This is great cartoon!  It is a great cartoon of God’s Law!  On this Good Friday we are reminded heaven or hell depends finally and fully  upon what He did…for you!  He does not want to give you hell, but His heaven as the thief on His right hand knew he was deserving as we all do, and there on his cross he confessed his sin:

 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  St. Luke 24

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