Which Criminal Are You?

This passion week as I read the story of our Redemption through Jesus Christ there’s one particular section of the story that really stood out to me. The portion of Scripture that I’m not sure I ever gave its due credit. The criminals on the crosses next to Jesus. I though it was a very important highlight moment of the crucifixion, however I don’t think I’ve ever really put myself in the place of the criminal next to Jesus. 

This week as I read the beautifully tragic story of Our Savior’s crucifixion I saw things a little bit differently. I am a criminal on the cross next to Jesus. But which one am I?

When we examine the scriptures in this part of the story we see that the two criminals next to Him have two very different demeanors and views of who Christ is. And definitely who Christ is to them.

“One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39‭-‬43 ESV

These criminals have two completely different postures in the presence of God. One has a posture of pride and entitlement but the other of humility and reverence, well aware of his guilt. So, how have we chosen to position our hearts before God in light of what he has done for us? Have we recognized that we are guilty and deserved the punishment that was fitting for our crimes? Or have we taken a position of entitlement and freed our selves from any blame? 

These questions have rolled around in my mind as I have taken a step back and looked at the reality of how we have responded to the cross. That our response and our continued walking out of faith is all filtered through our hearts and shown true through our hearts posture. Our proper response should be from a freed heart that operates out of active gratefulness.

With all the bows, bunnies, and baskets that add unnecessary fluff to this beautiful tragic love story, I fear that many of us have lost our identity as the actual guilty ones who have been granted innocence. Somewhere along the line we forget that the Savior paid what WE owed and take on a role of compassionate onlooker instead of a grateful debtor. Forgetting that we put him on the cross in the first place. We owe Him everything, though He only asks for one thing! Our hearts. 

This Resurrection weekend, I pray that we recognize that we were the guilty ones. We are the criminals who have been granted pardon.  That a perfectly blameless Jesus willingly took on the cross so that we could step down from it. May we never water down the truth of His passion for us. May we refuse to sit back and look on in sorrow for Him, but be broken in our freedom as we run the faith race bought for us. 

So ……. which criminal are you? 

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13‭-‬14 ESV
Indebtedly broken before Him, 

J.E. Berry

6 thoughts on “Which Criminal Are You?

  1. It always amazes me how over time we “get-use-to” the salvation story and forget/lose the depth of Christ’s sacrifice, as well as the fact that we are the ones He sacrificed for. Thank you for the reminder and this post.

    Liked by 1 person

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