Pastor Jim Stultz
Three Men and the Cross
As I was reading about Jesus and His death on the cross my attention was drawn to three men who figured into the story of Jesus and His suffering at Calvary. The three men are: Barabbas, Simon, and the thief.
Barabbas was the man who missed the cross. He was a condemned criminal that was sentenced to death for insurrection and murder. It was the custom for the Roman governor to release a prisoner each year at the Passover in order to gain acceptance with the Jews. Pilate wanted to release Jesus but when he offered the crowds a choice they called for the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus. Barabbas missed the cross that was meant for his execution. When I think of Barabbas I am reminded of myself, a guilty condemned sinner deserving judgement but Jesus took my place and anyone who exercises faith in Him can be forgiven and miss their cross.
Simon of Cyrene was the man who carried the cross. Remember as Jesus was on the way to Calvary in His weakened condition He was struggling beneath the load. In order to expedite the procedure the soldiers drafted a man who was in the crowd along the way to carry the cross. Jesus challenges all believers to take up his cross daily.
The thief was the man who was near the cross. Actually there was a thief on either side of Jesus. Both of them mocked the Savior but something changed as one of the thieves listened to the words of the Savior. He finally said to Jesus: "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:42,43). The thief was near the cross and by his faith was given assurance by Jesus that he would be with Him in paradise.
I rejoice as I think about those three men: Barabbas, Simon, and the thief. When I accepted Christ I too missed my cross. As a believer I am challenged to pick up my cross every day. And like the thief I long to spend the rest of my life near the cross of Jesus.