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Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to find things when you want them?! - "Has anyone seen that book I was reading last night?" ..... worldwide silence!
On the other hand, have you ever found, when you don't want something, how hard it can be to lose it! Children suffer most from this problem, but husband's do too! If you don't tidy it up, it's in someone's way - "Eric, you've left 'these things' lying around again!"..... or "Eric, I was tidying up in the spare bedroom this afternoon and I found this box of papers! They're taking up a lot of space... what do you want me to do with them?" Aaaargh.
The trouble is, you can't easily put anything nowhere (if you know what I mean)! It's a bit like this with sin. Somehow, someone always seems to know it was you! Someone saw you, or heard you, or somehow they just seem to be able to work out that it was you! How do they do that? And if 'they' don't know... HE does!
The Bible says that "ALL have sinned, and come short of God's standard." It's true - ALL of us! And yet, surprisingly, on that terrible day in Jerusalem when three men were being crucified as criminals, there was ONE OF THEM Who had NO SIN!
How could that be?! Because His Father was God, the Seed was planted in His mother by the Holy Spirit, and His mother was a virgin - that was so there could be no chance that the Baby which was born could be any other than God's Own.
So Hewas born without sin and, in His life, He did no sin. That was one of the problems His enemies had when they were trying to get Pontius Pilate to find Him guilty - they couldn't find anything He'd done wrong! In the end they 'got' Him on the basis that He'd made Himself equal with God, but AS IN FACT HE WAS, that wasn't a crime either!
However they didn't BELIEVE Him - 'believe' is always a key word when it comes to Jesus. So there He was, on the cross.
The TWO CRIMINALS with Him, one on the left, one on the right, are cursing and swearing at first. One of them was really unpleasant (!) and was cursing Jesus (people often blame God when they're in a mess).
But the other one, who was a thief, went very quiet for a while. Then He said "Don't you fear God? You are getting the same punishment He is, but we are punished justly, getting what we deserve for what we did. But THIS MAN has done NOTHING wrong." Then he said "LORD, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." He BELIEVED!
Because what Jesus said next was such a remarkable thing, I need to explain WHY He could say it! I said earlier that Jesus had NO SIN, and at the time, when we were thinking of when He was born and His life on earth, that was true. But it wasn't going to be true when He died! The key verse is part of a very famous and wonderful Old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah. It's in Isaiah 53, and it's worth reading all of verses 4-12. But verse 6 says "But the LORD has put on Him (Jesus) the punishment for all the evil we have done."
Of course there's even more details in the New Testament. One is in 2 Cor 5'21 "God made Him Who had NO SIN to BE SIN for us." Please read that 2 or 3 times - it's a wonderful verse, and the first part of The Great Exchange, the title of my message.
So, when Jesus died, instead of having NO SIN, He had OUR SIN - upon Him. He died for us! Now comes the BIG question: 'When each of those two criminals died, where was THEIR sin?!'
The criminal who didn't believe bore his own, he bore them himself. He died with his sin, and would be LOST. (For a discussion on lost/saved, body/soul, heaven/hell and life/death, visit Bible Answers and read the section alongside Ezek 18'4b).
But the criminal who DID BELIEVE, and CONFESSED his faith in Jesus just as we have seen, his sin was transferred to Jesus - Jesus TOOK it for him! That, then, is part 2 of The Great Exchange!
So this thief was SAVED, and that is why Jesus was able to say these remarkable words to him "I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in Paradise." I think that deserves a 'WOW!'
Which one of these two criminals are YOU like? Which would you prefer to be? Which will you choose? Have your sins been forgiven, do you BELIEVE in Jesus? I reckon that, if the thief on the cross could be SAVED in the way he was, because he BELIEVED in Jesus and CALLED on His Name for help... well, if he could be saved then ANYONE reading this can also surely be saved, by doing the very same thing.
I Believe there is a God
Chess in the Bible?!An Easter Allegory... Chess in the Bible?
An Unusual Meeting... Daniel's Story
An Easter Painting, one of my famous Family Service sketchboard stories! The Great Exchange
A set of One Line Bible verse messages, designed to make you think... _Bible Answers
For more information, or a free Booklet, write to: Eric Hallsworth, 45 Stretham Road, Wilburton, Cambs CB6 3RX, England, or e-mail... firstname.lastname@example.org