Originally published Wednesday, 16 April 2014.
We don't really hear much about Jesus and equality. We talk about "equal rights" on hot topics like the gay marriage debate. We focus in on the one polarizing issue at hand, but we never really stop and think about equality as a general issue.
It seems like Jesus had alot to say about equality. He said it with His life, death, and resurrection...
In this Holiest of Weeks, I can see Him hanging there on the cross, arms outstretched. On either side, two thieves -- both equally despised in the eyes of the law. One on the right, one on the left. Equal distances from the Savior. I envision their identical crosses being raised to the same height as the dying Lamb.
Eye-level with the crucified Prince of Peace. Equally sinners. Equally dying. Equally in need of a Savior.
... just like me.
... just like you.
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." ~ Isaiah 53:6
God sent His Son to die for the sins of each of us, equally. Jesus gave His life freely for the despicable sins of each soccer mom, faith blogger, gay rights activist, church deacon, church protester, child, grandparent, student, teacher, murderer, liar, hypocrite, adulterer, widow.
However, the choice to accept this gift and allow Christ to create a clean heart within us is up to us. We can equally choose to accept or to reject His sacrifice. Apart from His sacrifice, we have no hope. Without Christ, we are equally condemned to death.
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" ~ Romans 3:23 "Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins" ~ Eccl 7:20 "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." ~ 1 John 1:8
Just as we are all equally condemned to death apart from Jesus, we are all equally given the opportunity to eternal life through Him. He stretched out His arms toward each of the criminals with the equal offer of hope, redemption, freedom, and forgiveness through Him.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." ~ John 3:16 "because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." ~ Romans 10:9-10 "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” ~ Romans 10:13 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" ~ 1 John 1:9
Just like the criminals hanging on the cross, we each are faced with Jesus this week. Holy Week puts each of us at eye-level with Jesus Christ. We can't simply ignore His existence. We must each make a choice of what to do with Him. Jesus didn't ask the thieves what their previous sins were or why they were convicted to die. He already knows about our messes. Our weaknesses and shame are no secret from Him.
Where could they hide from His gaze? How could they escape their death sentence?
Only one thief on the cross believed in faith. Just one, even though they were both given equal opportunity.
Today, His hand is out-stretched to you. He is gazing into your eyes, just days before we remember His horrible death. What choice will you make?