January 31, 2022
“Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left.”
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“Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left.” Matthew 27:38
I believe Jerusalem is the center of the world. That may sound esoteric, but it’s the way I feel the Bible teaches it. On the world map, everything to the left of Jerusalem is called “the West.” Everything on the right is called “the East.”
Ever wondered why Jesus was crucified between two “thieves”? Why not murderers, heretics, drunkards, or anything other than thieves?
Whenever I think about the thieves flanking Jesus, it reminds me of the differences between Eastern and Western cultures; and how the East & West have stolen from God.
What sums up Eastern philosophy? The East is typified by religious discipline, without a personal relationship to God. It is impressive (and sometimes a bit scary) how far Eastern religions go to appease God. Be it Allah, Vishnu, or any of the millions of Eastern religious gods, none of them invite you to a personal relationship with a loving & gracious Savior. Their gods are impersonal and always need appeasing. Who would dare expect that kind of god to call you a “brother” or “friend,” “son” or “daughter”?
What about the West? The West wants liberty without accountability. Western culture doesn’t want anything to hinder the pursuit of happiness. It seeks to eliminate whatever rules may stifle the desire of the individual. If Western culture has a creed, it might be, “If it feels good, do it!” or perhaps, “Your belief is good for you; just don’t interfere with my pursuit of happiness.” After all, without tolerance of others’ pursuit of liberty, how could we “Coexist,” as the bumper sticker reads?
I’m not sure that my observation of East and West was intended in Scripture. My statements are merely what I thought of when I read today’s passage. Still, it is plain to see the East and West have stolen from Jesus. Perhaps, the thieves on either side of Jesus can act as a stern reminder that being more Conservative or Liberal than God directs is stealing from Him and altering what He requires of us.
Jesus commands us to be disciplined, but He also wants a personal relationship. He bestows liberty but gives us boundaries. In contrast to thieves who steal from anyone they can con, Jesus offers mercy to the guilty and grace to anyone who will receive it.
Have you received His free gift of atonement (the covering/pardoning of sins)? Simply turn to Him. “Declare it with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe it in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:9-10
In other words, believe in Jesus and make it public.