Have you ever wondered why there were three crosses on Calvary? Why was Jesus placed on the center cross?
The crosses on each side of Jesus represent the choice you and I must make. The choice we make determines how we live our life on earth and where we spend eternity.
On one side of Jesus was the cross of rebellion. The robber on that cross hurled insults at Jesus. Are you ever amazed at the depths that humans can sink? Read history and you see that there has always been violence and tragedy. The Bible says we live in a fallen world and man is in rebellion against God (Romans 3:10, 23).
The cross of rebellion shows that the man refused to admit who Jesus was. We have every reason to believe he died in his sin. Jesus said, “… if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:44).
Another criminal was on the other side of Jesus – he was no better a person. Matthew 27:44 says both criminals hurled insults at Jesus, but something happened to cause this thief to change his mind about Jesus. It may have been Jesus’ words of forgiveness to those crucifying him, but this man came to believe that Jesus was who he said he was. His became the cross of repentance.
The criminal on the cross of repentance reminds us that it is not who we are or what we have done that gets us into heaven. It is based on how we relate to Jesus. No other standard is applied (John 14:6).
We have talked about the cross on the right and on the left but don’t forget the cross in the middle – the cross of redemption. One man died in sin, another man died to his sin, and Jesus died for the sin of the world. “For Christ died for our sins once for all, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus is the only way to heaven (John 14:6).