Wednesday, October 17, 2012

God's Grace (Part 2)

I know I said I would post on Tuesday part 2 of God's grace but life happens with work and a family so here is part 2 this wonderful Wednesday. 

Monday I posted on God's grace seen at the cross.  I focused in on Luke 23:39-43 which is the scene with the two criminals being crucified on the right and left of Christ.  You can read part 1 by clicking here.  Today my focus is on Christ's response to the criminal asking Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom.  I believe Christ's answer to the criminal is why so many people truly hate grace.

In the previous verses we saw the grace of God change this criminal from a God-mocker to a God-fearer.  God's grace had opened his eyes to the reality of Christ.  Because of grace he now understood his sin and Christ's perfection and Lordship.  This man had been changed.  But the most astonishing point of the passage comes in verse 42 when this lifetime criminal turns to Jesus and says, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."  Simple enough from the surface but it is good to stop for a moment and really think about what is taking place in this moment.

First, this man was being executed because of crimes committed.  He is described in the Bible as a robber, criminal and insurrectionist.  Chances are this man had terrorized people his entire life.  He wasn't some rookie who got caught once but this man was an experienced criminal.  There is a good shot he had even murdered in his lifetime.  He may have been part of a clan with Barabbas who was the one release in order for Jesus to be crucified.  This man was what people in "normal society" would call a low life.  He was exactly where he deserved to be.  Most of us would applaud and approve and potentially cheer his execution.  But now he is pleading with Jesus to let him into his kingdom?  How does that make you feel?

It is easy to have this ho-hum response but if we were to really examine our hearts at this moment I think we would be conflicted.  Here he is moments from death asking for eternal joy with the God of the universe.  Isn't the reason hell exist for people like this guy?  No way would a good God allow this man into heaven.  You might even wonder if your mansion might be next to his.  I know as I thought this through I was a tad conflicted because I know what Jesus says in response to the criminal.  Did this man deserve to go to heaven after the life he lived in the world? 

...No...but now we can grasp God's grace to a greater degree.  It wasn't and isn't just this man who didn't deserve to inherit eternity with God in bliss and joy but all of us.  As soon as we think we deserve an eternity with God more then this criminal or anyone else we have jumped into the category of thinking we deserve grace.  And thinking we deserve grace is moronic: oxy moronic.  "For by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing it is a gift of God not a result of works so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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