Because of wicked hearts and evil agendas, Jesus was brought to the Sanhedrin in the dark of the night and tried as a criminal. At 6:00AM, Jesus was brought by his accusers before Pontius Pilot. Jesus was sentence to death by Crucifixion! It is between 6:00AM and 3:00PM when Jesus died, I wish to address.
Let us not ignore the fact that Pontius Pilot put Jesus in the middle of two criminals! This placement, I’m sure, was to validate Jesus’ crucifixion and demean him. While Jesus was being mocked by onlookers, the two criminals hanging on their crosses to Jesus’ right and left, also, mocked him! While Jesus was nailed to the cross, continually, Jesus prayed out loud, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” While Jesus prays, the onlookers and rulers even sneered at him and mockingly said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen one!” The Roman soldiers also mocked Jesus saying, ” If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” There were soldiers playing the game of chance with Jesus’ robes! One of the criminals on the cross hurled insults at Jesus, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” All the while insults and mockery were spoken to Jesus as he hung on the cross in excruciating pain, not once did he answer to insult but continued to pray, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It was at this point, the second criminal spoke up rebuking the other criminal for insulting Jesus. He said, “Don’t you fear God, 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 to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Now up to this point, Jesus responded to no mockery or insult! Jesus turned and looked at this repentant man and said, ” I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” It was at that point, Jesus made his “last friend on earth, and first friend in Heaven”! (Quote from Charles Spurgeon).
Positioning Jesus between two criminals might have been to demean Jesus but what it actually did was glorify! Jesus the Christ, is a friend of sinners! Surely, when Jesus and his newfound friend entered into his kingdom together, it was an announcement of victory over death and Satan. Amen.