By reading Luke 23:40-41 we find another eternal truth that is the fourth saying to the cross. In this case it was uttered by a thief to a thief. Thief number one said that each person gets what he deserves. Mankind is the only creature that can commit premeditate murder, periodically produced in its history a Hitler, and even find ways to turn good into bad. Like Jesus these two thieves were put on trial and condemned to the cross. Speaking for myself, it is difficult to appreciate this substitutionary death of Jesus on my behalf. Unlike Barabbas, we are not in danger of being put on trial and hearing the pronouncement of crucifixion on us. Like Barabbas we are free because Jesus took crucifixion on himself.
If we would have been put on trial, what would be the events of trial?
Let us assume we are standing on trial for all the sins, evil, and bad things that we have done. That would include our thoughts as well is our behavior. That would be throughout the years of our life. It would mean everything and anything that we have done either displeasing to God or in some way harmful to mankind.
Let us hear from the prosecution.
According to judges 17:6 people at that time of Israel’s history decided for themselves what was right and wrong. They did not measure themselves against the 10 Commandments or any aspect of the Mosaic law. Conscience was untrained and unreliable. Even though this was many thousands of years ago, there is a great similarity between then and now.
Today guidance from the Bible has become obsolete. Influence from the Holy Spirit is virtually nonexistent. We do have laws against running traffic lights or killing someone or stealing from someone. However, in the day to day living most people make up their own rules for what is right and wrong. Most people decide whether to bring harm to another.
The prosecution in our trial would pick accusations against us. According to James 2:10, if we have done one single point wrong, we have broken the entire law of God. That means we have committed treason against God when we forget to honor him, and we have committed robbery when we take God’s blessings without showing appreciation. We have committed fraud when we withhold doing or giving that which is good.
Let us hear from our defense lawyer.
The apostle Paul was our first character witness in Romans 9:15. In that passage God said that he had the authority to show compassion. Therefore, even though we may have evidence against us, God’s good patience rescues us. God’s love intervenes so that whatever the accusations may be against us, they are nil and have no influence on what the verdict may be. That is why we can say we are saved.
The opportunity to receive salvation rests with mankind because God did all he could. God offered the plan of salvation to each person willing to and it. Therefore, our defense against any evil accusations is that we have accepted God’s offer of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Our defense calls forth John 3:18. It says, “he that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God.”
Our appeal against a guilty verdict is based on Jesus as our Savior. Romans 10 is an excellent chapter to explain the basis of salvation and how anyone of us can incorporate that into our spiritual condition. Verse 10 explains that we must have a heartfelt belief that leads to righteousness. Also, salvation is not just a private thing. If we have accepted Christ as Savior, surely, we would have some appreciation for what he has done in our behalf. Therefore, the natural reaction would be for us to confess to other people and enjoy that new relationship with Jesus.
A sign that we appreciate what Christ has done in our behalf is that we will tell other people what we have experienced. The person who says they read the Bible and pray for salvation and does not display salvation before other people indicates that that person is either shallow or their salvation is nonexistent. They are merely religious people.
In John 10:28 we discover a powerful statement made by Jesus. He says that the effect of Christ dying across is so monumental that nothing or no one can take the saved person from Jesus. In the previous verse. the same is said about our safekeeping with the heavenly father.
I have met many people who constantly struggle to earn salvation and always question if they have done the right thing or enough of the right things to please God so they will go to heaven. If we can earn our salvation by good works, there would be no reason for Jesus to die on the cross. And because the death of Jesus was so miraculous our salvation experience is sealed so that we cannot be pulled away to hell.
We are all guilty of sin and estrangement from God. We are found innocent because of the intervention that Jesus makes in our behalf. His intervention is made possible by his death on the cross. Let us live an honorable life reflecting our appreciation to God.