We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Luke 23:41

The five hardest words to say in society:

“I’m sorry.”

“I was wrong.”

Three men crosses, three men, three entirely different stories, all were going to die that day.

On the one side hung a man who was arrogant, and proud. Even with death staring him in the face he never relented. To the very end his words and actions told his life story. To the very end he attacked others rather than looking at himself. Life was a blame game. Blame others. Refuse to look at your own faults. Dull your own pain by focusing on, and if possible increasing the pain of others. Take no thought in how your actions may affect those around you. Every man for himself.

On the other side hung a man who spent his dying moments reflecting on life. His attitude on the cross may give insight into his life as a whole. This was the man next door. Good to his kids, kind to his wife. May have even gone to church occasionally (like Easter and Christmas). But life dealt him a cruel hand. Try as he might, he just couldn’t shake the lifestyle that put nails in his hand. His may have been addiction. It may have been an attitude of action without thinking. He may have lived a life full of anger, frustration or fear.

Moral? Perhaps in some ways. The rough exterior that put the nails in his hands may have belied an underlying heart of compassion and kindness and humility. While we don’t know much about him but we can surmise that he knew how to say the five words.

His rebuke of his cross mate showed that he knew he was wrong. While his buddy blamed others, he took responsibility himself. We know he was sorry for he asked the man in the middle for forgiveness (of sorts).

In the middle Jesus Christ stands between heaven and hell; between paradise and judgment; between forgiveness and shame.  Three different men, three different stories, two different outcomes. The one who refused to accept responsibility died that day and is spending eternity separated from God. The other two men moved from earth to heaven. Jesus taking along his new found friend, removing him from judgment and bringing him to paradise; granting him forgiveness and taking away his shame.

We can focus on what others have done to us and play the part of a victim or we can admit our part in the guilt. We can accept judgment or accept grace and forgiveness.

Jesus Christ was more than just a religious figure or a good teacher. He was more than a prophet. He was and is Messiah. He came to take away your guilt and your shame. He came to forgive those who are willing to look at themselves, admit their fault and accept his forgiveness.

PRAYER: Jesus thank you for your forgiveness. I worship you because once I was like the man who chose to blame others rather than accept responsibility for my rebellion. Thank you that I am free because you died for me. Amen.