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As Jesus emptied out His life’s blood, He heard the thieves on either side of Him debating what they had heard about the Christ. One rejected salvation with sarcasm. But the other received Him.

Jesus knew the hearts of these convicted criminals, but only one became convicted of his sin. The Bible says conviction leads to repentance.

The thief understood that more than being bound to the cross of death, he was at the crossroads of decision. He chose the only path to salvation, for salvation comes only through the cross of Christ. Christ is the way, His word is the truth, and His death and resurrection bring life.

Repentance is by faith, believing that God will forgive. Repentance is acknowledging your sin and, by faith, accepting Christ’s forgiveness, changing your mind about who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for you, then turning from sin and going the way of the cross. When you do this, He empowers you to believe that He will cleanse you from sin and give you a new heart, a renewed mind, and the will to follow Him into His kingdom.

When we read the account of the crucifixion, it is easy to miss the glory of the cross because of its shame—shame for human sin that nailed Jesus to the tree. The cross represents the suffering love of God, which bears the guilt of humanity’s sin, which alone is able to melt the sinner’s heart and bring him to repentance for salvation. This is the glory of the cross.

“You, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Colossians 1:21–22)
 

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