Wake The Churches

Why Three Crosses?

Why Three Cross's?

You will notice that I used an image of Three Crosses here.

I’m sure you have noticed three Crosses on many Christian Churches, but I wonder if you have ever really thought about why there are three crosses.

If we’re going to talk about the three crosses, we had better start at the beginning; in Gospel accounts of the Crucifixion of Christ.

The Gospel of Luke has the better rendering of the story of the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus. So let’s look at Luke 23: 32-33, 39-43…

32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. 33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying,” If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.” 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, ”Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.” 42 And he said unto Jesus, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” 43 And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

Two criminals were crucified with Jesus that day, one on His right and one on His left. The Bible tells that both men were justly coming to their end, both were deserving of death for what they had done, but that’s where the similarity ends.

One of them railed against Jesus, mocking Him, saying, “If you really are the Christ, then save us as well as yourself.” He was joining in with the crowd of Pharisees who had come out to watch and make sure Jesus was given the full punishment they had cried for. “If you are indeed the Christ, the chosen one of God, then save yourself, come down off that cross and we’ll follow you.”

The Pharisees mocked Him; the soldiers mocked him and gambled for His clothes. And one of the men dying with Him, now also was mocking Him.

Matthew tells us in Chapter 27 verse 44 that both thieves also mocked Him, but I think that if at first they were both mocking Him, that at some point one of the thieves must have seen something in Jesus that caused him to stop and think.

There must have been something in Jesus’ eye and something about the way He was acting that made that one thief stop and really look at Jesus. Did it touch something deep inside him when he heard Jesus say, “Father forgive them, they know not what they are doing.”

At that point did he stop his taunting? Did he remember all the crimes he was guilty of, recognizing that Jesus was guilty of nothing? Nothing that deserved the kind of death He was dying.

How much of what had happened earlier that day were the thieves aware of? Had they heard the crowd calling for Jesus to be crucified? And Pilate claiming he had found nothing deserving of death in Jesus? Had either one of them heard Jesus tell Pilate, “You have no authority over me unless it was given to you from above.”

Had either of them ever heard Jesus speak before they were caught and convicted of their crimes?

We don’t know, we can only guess at what was going on in their minds before we meet them on that hill, nailed to their crosses with Jesus.

But Luke tells us that one of the thieves turns on his partner in crime and says, “Don’t you fear God? We deserve what we are getting, but this man has done nothing.” And then he turns to Jesus and asks Him “Lord, Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

Jesus then tells him, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

It’s an old story that’s told at Easter in just about every Christian Church around the world. But I feel there is a lesson in it we must all think about.

Let’s go over to Matthew 16:13-16…

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” 14 And they said, “Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He saith unto them, “But whom say ye that I am?” 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And that’s the question we must all answer, “Who do YOU say that Jesus is?”

One of those thieves dying with Christ recognized who He was, and asked to be remembered.

Look at what he said, “We deserve what we are getting.”

In that, we have a confession of sin. And we are all guilty of sin, but we don’t all recognize it and repent of that sin. The thief did. He saw that he was a sinner deserving of death.

And by recognizing Jesus for who he was by saying, “This man has done nothing to deserve this death.” He in fact recognized that Jesus had never sinned.

Then our thief goes one step further. He asks Jesus to, “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” He calls Him, “Lord.”

By saying that, he is recognizing Jesus as the King and Lord of Lords that He is.

What does Jesus do next? He in essence forgives the man his sins and tells him that that day, “You will be with ME in Paradise.”

What that thief goes through on his cross is exactly what we must go through.

We must recognize that we are sinners and that we cannot save ourselves.

We must be sorry for our sins.

We must admit that we need a Savior.

We must recognize that Jesus is that Savior.

We must ask Him to forgive us and to be included in His Kingdom.

We must answer the Question Jesus posed to Peter, “Who do you say that I am?”

We must say with Peter, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.”

The first thief wasn’t sorry for his sins, he was only sorry he got caught.

He mocked Jesus; never knowing who it was who he was deriding. He went to his grave unsaved and lost. He was only looking at his own situation; he was too focused on himself and what was happening to him. He couldn’t see who Jesus was because he could only see himself.

And there you have our two choices.

Either recognize who we are, sinners in need of a savior, and who Jesus is and be saved, or go our own way and die in our sins.

Each of us is presented with these two choices, eternal life or eternal death if you will.

We can live with Jesus, admitting that we need Him and that we can’t save ourselves no matter how we try. We must admit we are sinners. We must repent of those sins and ask for forgiveness from the only one who can forgive those sins.

That is Jesus Christ, the one who died for those sins on that Cross.

Or we can die in our sins, by ourselves and alone, focused on only the world. We can reject Christ and what He did on that Cross as foolishness. We can keep on sinning, going our own way and be lost for all eternity.

That’s our choice, and why there were Three Crosses on that hill.

Jesus is in the center of our world asking us, “Who do you say that I am?”

Sadly, many of us will be like the first thief, rejecting Christ, going our own way.

But some of us, will be like the repentant thief, and admit our sins and our need for a Savior. We will recognize Jesus for who He is and come to Him for forgiveness and Salvation.

There are Three Crosses. The man on the Center Cross can save you, but you have to recognize who He is and ask Him.

Are you like the first thief, mocking Jesus and dying unsaved that day?

Or are you like the repentant thief, who also dies that day, but is now spending eternity in Paradise with Jesus?

The Choice is yours and yours alone to make.

Who do you say that Jesus is?

 

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