Hanging on a cross. Dying a slow, agonizing death. A death he actually deserved. A criminal. He knew his punishment was just. But also, this man realized who was next to him. He knew not only was Jesus being crucified without just cause, but He was who He said He was, the Son of God. In that moment, he repented, asking Jesus to remember him in His kingdom. He knew the only way he had any hope was complete belief and trust in Jesus.
In every way, that criminal is me. A life that is sinful and wicked. Condemned to a death I fully deserve. A death leaving me separate and apart from God. Knowing that nothing in my own doing will save me from my fate.
On that day, next to that criminal was the Son of God. The perfect and living sacrifice for my sins, and yours. He took upon the punishment and separation that every one of us deserves. He died a death that was unfathomable. The physical brutality of it was bad enough. But the anguish of being separated from our Heavenly Father was even more painful. And yet, He willingly accepted it as full and complete payment for the sins of those who would believe in Him.
This Good Friday, I am reflecting. I am pausing to concentrate on Jesus’ death because I need to remember just how enormous His sacrifice was. And, I need to remain thankful that He took my place. It is only by His grace and mercy that I am not condemned to the fate I deserve.
My response? Sheer awe and amazement. And obedience to Him. I pray that I submit to His will every day. In the same manner that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, I pray. “…yet not my will be done, but yours.” (Luke 22:42)