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You know how sometimes Scripture just seems to jump out at you, or you notice something you hadn’t before? Well, I had one of those moments Friday. My pastor has a daily devotional podcast, and for the Good Friday episode this year, he opted to simply read the story of Jesus’ sacrifice for us from the Bible. When he was reading from Matthew, one verse in particular struck me (I’ve also included the preceding verses for context):
Then two criminals were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. Those who passed by were yelling insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him and said, “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! He is the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God rescue him now — if he takes pleasure in him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” In the same way even the criminals who were crucified with him taunted him.
Matthew 27:38-44 CSB (emphasis added)
“Even the criminals who were crucified with him taunted him” – but what do we famously know about one of those criminals?
Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:39-43 CSB
This criminal, who that very day had been mocking Christ, now believed in Jesus and was saved! I had not realized before that both of the criminals had joined in the mocking, making this particular criminal’s transformation so striking. What a beautiful example of redemption right in the middle of the ultimate redemption story! God truly is so good, and this truly was a Good Friday.Published in