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Easter Day Six: The Scandal of Grace
By Danny Saavedra
“It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. . . . They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left.”—Mark 15:25, 27 (NIV)
Good Friday is the day we remember how Jesus—the perfect Son of God—took upon His shoulders the sins of the world, was arrested, unjustly tried, falsely convicted, beaten, mocked, crucified, and killed. It’s the day the sinless died for the sinful.
In 1 Timothy 1:15 (NLT), it says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” The word for save here (sōsai) means “to rescue; to deliver out of danger; to rescue from destruction and bring into safety.” Rescue from what? Death.
You see, Romans 5:12 (PHILLIPS) says, “Sin made its entry into the world through one man, and through sin, death. The entail of sin and death passed on to the whole human race, and no one could break it for no one was himself free from sin.” And as Romans 6:23 (KJV) states, “The wages of sin is death.”
But because God loves us so deeply, He didn’t leave us bound in sin and doomed to die. No! He sent His Son into the world to “give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 ESV) “in order to rescue us” (Galatians 1:4 NLT). “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV). He gave His life to save us!
Some call the events of this day a “scandal of grace,” as the innocent was killed in place of the guilty. Jesus died in our place so that by His blood, we may be brought into a right relationship with God and be given a place in paradise, in heaven, in His kingdom as His beloved sons and daughters.
And the greatest part is all we have to do to receive this salvation, to be rescued, redeemed, and restored, to be accepted and adopted, to have our sins forgiven, is to trust in Him! We see this clearly as Jesus’ interacts with the two criminal men whom surrounded Him on the cross. Now, unlike Jesus, who was completely innocent, these two men were rightfully convicted and sentenced. The Greek word used here for criminal (kakourgōn) was generally used to denote a thief; someone who forcibly took from another. How fitting that Jesus, who came to give salvation and eternal life to all who would receive it, was crucified surrounded by men who took from others.
The interaction between Jesus and the criminals is quite the stark contrast. One of the criminals “hurled insults at Him.” The other thief was remorseful and repentant—he was broken, accepted his fate, and acknowledged his guilt. He rebukes the first criminal, acknowledges his sinfulness, and makes a simple request of the Lord: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42 NIV).
There is something deeply touching and arresting about this appeal. It was full of trust. The criminal didn’t ask for an earthly rescue. Rather, he was content to simply be remembered by the King. And with a tenderness and compassion only found in Jesus, our Lord responded, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NIV).
In this indescribably beautiful moment, Jesus exchanged this man’s guilt for a peace and hopeful expectation that cannot be explained. He declared to this man, even as he hung there dying for his crimes, that this was not the end of his story. In fact, the greatest chapter was about to begin as Jesus shared the most glorious and beautiful spoiler alert ever, telling Him that very shortly they would be together in heaven! And because He was crucified on that Good Friday 2,000 years ago, we are able to know and look forward with joyful expectation that we, too, will be with Jesus in paradise!
If you’ve never received Jesus, if you’ve never repented of your sins and trusted in Him for your salvation, today can be your day! Today can be the day you look upon the face of the Savior and give your life to Him. Today can be the day you know for sure you’ll be in paradise forever with the God who loves you unconditionally. If you would like to receive Jesus, please e-mail me at DanielS@CalvaryFTL.org.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.