Three people were crucified on Good Friday. Who were the people? “And when they came to the place called Skull, there they crucified Him and the villains, one on the right, and the other on the left.” Luke 23:33.
The fact Jesus was crucified with two criminals was not an accident. The prophet Isaiah writes: “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.» Isaiah 53:12.
“One of the hanged villains reviled him and said: if you are the Christ, save yourself and us.” Luke 23:39.
This person represents the world. He wants to be saved without condemning his life. – If you are the Messiah, deliver us from judgment, free yourself and us, show what you are capable of. If you are a Christian, then you must please me by satisfying my requirements. If you are the Messiah, go to Jerusalem for a feast, stand before the people, throw yourself down from the highest corner of the temple, turn stones into bread. Reveal your greatness to us so that all can see and understand that the Messiah is among us.
Such a Messiah is awaited by the world, and their desire will be fulfilled in the appearance of the antichrist. Christ’s mission was not to set the world free, to perform signs and wonders in the face of the beast and to do his bidding. He came to crucify the world and bring it to death, so that everyone who dies with Him may receive life.
The crucified villain hung on the cross. He could blaspheme, do anything, but he was still condemned to death. The nails held their prey firmly on the cross. Thus the world is crucified. If one is crucified for all, then all are crucified. If one died for all, then we all died. The nails that the wicked can never remove from their hearts are the Spirit’s evidence of the judgment by which the prince of this world has already been condemned. Of course, the world can – like a villain – try to save its own life, but it cannot. He will lose her.
“But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.” Luke 23:40-41.
The first robber wanted to be saved, avoiding judgment, while the second, on the contrary, wanted to be punished for the evil that he had committed, in order to be free from what he had done in eternity. He placed his burden of sin on Him who bore the sins of the whole world and was invited to share eternity with Jesus in Paradise.
The first thief was in sin and sin was in him, so was the second. However, the second, having admitted his guilt and accepted the judgment, got rid of the burden of his sins. He was no longer condemned. He was cleansed of what he was condemned for. However, the sin that lived in him still remained in his body. This thief is the image of those people who are cleansed of their sins and do not want anything more.
Third person crucified
The third person crucified on the cross was none other than Jesus Himself. The first thief blasphemed Him, but He did not answer him. The second robber responded to this blasphemy. He responded to his blasphemy. In this way, even today, saved thieves can answer all the questions of the world about Jesus, answer and repel their blasphemy. Jesus himself does not answer this. He turned to the second thief and swore to him: “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43.
Jesus not only bore the sins of the world on the cross, He also bore this sin in Himself. He became a sin offering for us. God condemned sin in His flesh. (Romans 8:3) And when this work was completed, Jesus committed His Spirit to the Father. The law could not condemn sin in the flesh, because the sin committed by man is outside the body. Now God did what was impossible for the law: He condemned sin in the flesh of Jesus. Now everyone who wants to be saved from the sin that lives in his flesh must take up his cross every day. The thief received salvation from his sins, but he did not receive participation in the divine nature. Jesus did not come in angelic form, He was born from the seed of Abraham. (Heb. 2:14-18) He had to do this in order to put an end to the sin that lives in the body, and instead of sin, to reveal all the fullness of God that has settled in Him.
Judgment on the sin that lives in the flesh, on old Adam, is not a condemnation, since this judgment takes place inside the body. Peter speaks of this salvation: “And if the righteous scarcely be saved…” 1. Peter 4:18. Growth, salvation, and judgment take place there within the body, so that everyone will be rewarded for what has happened in and through the body.
What God does has a double effect. He gives us outward salvation through Jesus Christ, and He gives both inward and outward salvation in the same person.
However, the enemies of the cross of Christ oppose this inner salvation, and like a thief, are content to receive forgiveness for their sins.
The bride of Christ wants to share His holiness with Him. She calculated how much it would cost. She is flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bones. She desires not only to share joy with her Bridegroom, but also to suffer and die with Him—not only to the curse of the law, but to the old nature of Adam living in the body.
Author: Johan Oskar Smit
This article was first published in Hidden Treasures April 1914.
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