Pastor Joe Focht Devotional
Pastor Joe Focht Devotional

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Devos with Pastor Joe—The Middle Cross: Matthew 27:38-44

This devotional was written by Joe Focht, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Philadelphia, PA. Used with permission. You can find more Daily Devotions with Pastor Joe at resources.ccphilly.org.

Two Thieves, Different Endings

There were two thieves crucified with Jesus, one on the right hand, and another on the left hand. Matthew 27:38

God sets all this up, by the way. There’s a divine picture here that we’re going to look at. These [men] were just thieves, that’s all Scripture tells us. They’re equal distance from the Savior, the Redeemer. There are three crosses, a picture you see everywhere around the world. Two thieves [are] on either side of Him. One of them at the end of this day ends up in paradise, and the other one ends up in hades, in torment. It’s done that way deliberately.

Initially, they’re both railing at Him, mocking Him, and screaming at Him. Somehow, they must have heard Jesus say, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Somehow, they must have heard, “Woman, behold thy son; John, behold thy mother.” Somehow in the middle of this, one of them realizes, How can He do this? He’s beaten worse than we are; He’s in the same pain. One of them finally says, “Hey, we’re here justly; but this guy, he didn’t do [anything wrong]. Stop screaming at Him.”

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And he turns to Jesus and says, “Lord.” It’s incredible for Christ to hear that. The thief didn’t know the sinner’s prayer. He didn’t know the Four Spiritual Laws. He said, “Lord, will you remember me when you come into your kingdom?” Jesus said to that thief, “I tell you the truth, today you’re going to be with me in paradise” (from Luke 23:42-43). What a gift to Jesus!

The interesting thing is that they don’t have any “creds”—they’re both thieves. One’s not better than another—that’s like us sitting here today. The remarkable thing is that the middle cross is where there’s way more sin, way more than these thieves [had committed]. On the middle cross is the sin of the world. It says in Isaiah 53:6b, And the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. The weight of sin on the middle cross didn’t even compare with what the thieves had done because Christ was there in my place.

“Come Down from the Cross”

And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it again in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God, let him deliver him [Jesus] now, if he will have him: for he [Jesus] said, I am the Son of God. Matthew 37:39-43

Religious people who aren’t saved are the worst. They said, “If you’re the Son of God, come down from the cross. If you’re the King of the Jews, come on down from the cross.” He is and He will.

The very reason Jesus didn’t come down from the cross was because He was the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, of you and I. That’s the very reason He stayed on the cross. He is the King of the Jews, He is the Son of God, and He’s coming down pretty soon. He’s going to do it—the timing [just] wasn’t right here. But He’s coming down. That’s for sure. How prophetic: Since He saved others, Himself He couldn’t save. That’s the whole point.

 

All verses above are quoted from the King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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