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To the Sides of the Cross “Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Luke 23:42 Many gathered on the Hill that day. Varied thoughts swirled through their minds. Strong emotions weighed on their hearts. The chief priests, scribes, and elders ridiculed, the soldiers mocked, others wept, many were simply confused. Wasn’t this the Messiah who was to save them from oppression? Wasn’t this a Good man? And Mary, His mother, was there. With a broken heart she saw her son, the Son on the Cross, and was haunted by Simeon’s words spoke when Jesus was 8 days old. “A sword will pierce even your own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:25) From His view, He saw more than the crowd. He saw individual hearts. He looked and saw us, those who would believe. And He saw those who would mock, challenge, and curse to their own demise. Truly “… that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” That day the opinions of the crowd were revealed through the hearts of the two criminals at either side. Both saw so differently. They all stumbled together on that long road carrying their crosses, yet neither heard Jesus get angry. They were beside Him when the nails were driven into their flesh, yet He never cursed. Moments before they both listened as He prayed “Father, forgive them.” (Lk.23:34) And yet one criminal hardened his heart and spewed sarcastic insults. “If you are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” (Lk.23:39) And the other heart softened and trusted humbly. “Jesus, remember me... ” (Lk.24:42) The Cross is always in the midst of two perspectives. Faith looks beyond the Cross. Death comes on a Cross, but for the faithful, resurrection glory immediately follows. Hoping for mere mercy, Jesus promised the “humble criminal” much greater. “Today you’ll be with Me ....” He raises us together with Him, in the midst of circumstances, when our perspective is on His eternal plan. His Kingdom is one of our reigning and ruling as overcomers. Are you bearing a Cross in this season? (Mk. 8:34, Gal. 6:4-5) What weights are carried by others in this time of increasing uncertainty? Do they not serve to reveal the thoughts of the heart? Within us the pulls of both criminals reside. The flesh naturally curses the situations and doubts the One who desires to lift us above. Yielding to the spirit enables us to trust and overcome with a releasing perspective, empowering the very Kingdom of God to be demonstrated in a world of mockery. Yes, death happens on a cross. For the thief who overcame, much within him died: pride, hopelessness, resentment, torment, and immediately, from the Cross, he began to witness. He yelled to the criminal on the other side, yet his words were magnified in the ears of the crowd; the mockers, the fearful, and the confused, “Do you not even fear God...?” (Lk. 23:40) The fear of God, the awareness of His awesome goodness, leads many to repentance, a turning of the mindset to “experientially know” His love. (Rom. 2:4) Embrace the crosses of life, direct others in these times to “look unto Him, the author and finisher of their faith. (Heb. 12:2). Today, this day, the Lord is lifting us above and through overcoming lives, revealing His Kingdom. In Him, Rev. Sharon Carlson