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The second of three devotions on . . .


Take another look at the cross. It was the best way for Jesus to die. Crucifixion turns out to be, by far, the best way for other people to die!

Seriously. Let’s go to the cross on Calvary and find out. In Luke chapter 23 you hear Jesus make two marvelous, miraculous, absolving statements: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” and “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Imagine the love and pity towards sinful man that it took for Jesus–in utter agony–to express these thoughts. His love for sinners prevented Him from reviling and cursing His torturers and blasphemers. He wants all people to come to repentance. And when the one thief did repent, Jesus gave Him an eternal blessing.

Now let’s skip ahead into eternity, into heaven. You, as a believer, are going there eventually (not because of anything you have done, of course). Now imagine yourself meeting all kinds of fellow-believers there. You will get to meet that repentant criminal who died on a cross beside Jesus. And the chief topic of his eternal conversation will be gratitude. “The best thing that ever happened to me,” he will say, “was to die on that cross!” No, not to have been a criminal, but to have died there with Christ and to be brought to the realization that this is the Savior of sinners the world over.

According to the Revelation of Saint John, chapter five, everyone in heaven will be singing praises to the Lamb who was slain for us. You will sing it too–along with that penitent thief, and along with Saint Paul who on earth once wrote: “I am crucified with Christ . . . I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Millions of people in heaven will sing virtually the same song. Why? Because all those millions will have been crucified! They will have realized (if not beforehand, then certainly in heaven) that crucifixion turned out to have been the best way to die. For Jesus. And for them.

” . . . As many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death . . . we have been united together in the likeness of His death . . . our old man was crucified with Him . . . if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him” (Romans 6:3-8).

This is heavy stuff! It’s the weight of glory. And the real marvel and mystery and miracle of it all is this, that it is all gift. Our whole life is gift. Our whole Christian life–our life in Christ–is gift.

Our dying in Him is delivered to us through Word and Sacraments– together with our living in Him. It’s the only way to go.

–Pastor Warren Fanning