Posts Tagged 'standing with Jesus'

Picking a Side

JESUS SPEAKING

            Jesus shared his crucifixion with two other men; both of them were criminals.  Below is the account of their interaction with him.  ‘Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed him, saying, “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.”  But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?  And we justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come in to your kingdom.”  And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23: 39-44.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS           

           The religious leaders who were standing at the foot of the cross were taunting Jesus and teasing him; telling him to come down from the cross as a show of his power.  The first criminal joined in on this taunting.  Mocking him, he added in the request that Jesus save he and the other criminal from death as well.  The second criminal made the decision to chastise the first for teasing Jesus.  He recognized his own guilt, and the guilt of the other man; openly professing the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  He understood that he was paying for a life of sin, and that Jesus did not deserve to die. The second criminal asked for salvation, but a different kind of salvation.  He knew he was going to die on that cross, but he believed that Jesus was able to save his soul.  He was focused on the eternal; unlike the first criminal who was thinking only of his bodily life.  Jesus granted him eternal life, not because of any work that he did, or because he had lived a good life, but because he believed in the one and only son of God.  He acknowledged his sin and recognized the purity of Jesus, and in humility, asked to receive eternal life.  The purpose for the crucifixion, and for the life of Jesus Christ is revealed in this scripture, and it applies today.  He divides people into one of two immutable categories; believers and unbelievers.  Some choose to deny him and make him a myth.  While others choose to recognize him as the ‘Son of God;’ fully capable of granting them eternal life in a kingdom that will have no end.

            There once was man named Polycarp who lived from approximately 65 A.D. to 155 A.D.  He was an early Christian leader presiding over the church in Smyrna.  At some point, the Romans required everyone living in that city to burn incense to their pagan Gods.  Polycarp adamantly refused to engage in that sort of sacrilegious activity.  In turn, the Romans gave him an ultimatum; if he did not burn the incense, he himself would be burned at the stake.  Polycarp’s reply was, “Eighty and six years I have served him.  How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior?  Bring forth what thou wilt.”  And the Romans did just that.  Apparently, he requested that they not tie his hands down to the stake; an indication that he would not attempt to flee from the flames.  Legend has it that he did not burn, and that the flames simply swirled around him.  A Roman soldier was then commanded to run him through with the sword.  The flames were put out by the blood that poured from his body.  Where is Polycarp now?  He is in paradise with his king, enjoying the pleasures of an eternal kingdom.  He chose to stand for Christ rather than to lay down with the world.

          Today, everyone is still offered the choice to call Jesus Christ their king.  We can stand for him, or we can stand against him.  We can trust him, call him our king, and receive eternal life, or we can join the world as they deny him and tease him; as they call him a myth and a legend.  Those who are lost perceive him to be nothing more than a man.  They don’t believe he has the power to grant eternal life, because they believe he is dead.  But those who love him, know differently.  Do you believe that he is able to grant you eternal life?  Is it possible that just on the other side of death lays a paradise of overflowing goodness?  Are you willing to stand with him now?

          “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask and pray that You would grant us eternal life.  Help us to stand for You and to be courageous in professing our faith in You and Your Son.  Also Lord, give us more faith and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might do Your will in this place, and continue our work in your coming kingdom.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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