"Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin..." Acts 13:39
I stumbled across this verse today: "There they crucified him, and with him two others--one on each side and Jesus in the middle." John 19:18
Revelation. Jesus in the middle. A truth that has escaped me all my life.
The rest of the story:
"One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!"
But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23:39 - 43
A lot of us have always known Jesus was hung on the cross between two criminals. What hit me today was the wording "in the middle, one on each side". Because Jesus is still in the middle. Each one of us is the first criminal, hurling insults and mocking and ignoring our own sin. But when we choose to believe Jesus is who he says he is...we become the last criminal, saved and promised paradise.
Those criminals could do nothing to rectify their behavior, they couldn't "fix" anything or earn their salvation, their time was up. All it took was to accept Jesus as the Messiah and believe him. That's how it is then, that's how it is now, that's how it will always be. I don't have to be clean and blameless to approach the cross, that's why Jesus is in the middle.