Three Crucified Men

Thursday, February 2, 2023

“Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst” (John 19:18 KJV).

See the three on Calvary.

“Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left” (Matthew 27:38). “And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left” (Mark 15:27). “And there were also two other, malefactors [evildoers, criminals], led with him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left” (Luke 23:32,33). Check also today’s Scripture.

One crucified man died because of his sins, for he was guilty. “And we indeed justly [are rightfully punished]; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss ” (Luke 23:41). Though both thieves initially mocked Jesus (Matthew 27:44; Mark 15:32), this thief repented (changed his mind) and confessed faith in Jesus as Lord/Christ (Luke 23:39-43).

One crucified man died in his sins, for he had no faith in Jesus Christ, completely content in making fun of Him throughout the six hours of their joint crucifixion.

One crucified Man “died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3), “For he [Father God] hath made him [the Lord Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” (1 Peter 3:18). “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9). “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I [Paul!] am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity” (1 Timothy 2:5-7).

Joseph and Jesus #8

Friday, January 27, 2023

“These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report” (Genesis 37:2 KJV).

Let us search the Scriptures to see how Joseph is a type of the antitype Jesus….

Joseph was 17 when his brethren sold him into slavery in Egypt (today’s Scripture). He serves in Potiphar’s house before going to prison, but is ultimately freed to work in Pharaoh’s court. “And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:46). In like manner, Jesus was approximately 30 years old when His public ministry started: “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,…” (Luke 3:23).

On several occasions, Joseph wept (Genesis 42:24; Genesis 45:2,14,15; Genesis 46:29). Similarly, according to the Gospel Records, Jesus wept (Luke 19:41; John 11:35; cf. Hebrews 5:7). As much as 20 years after his brethren betrayed him, Joseph reunites with them and forgives them even though do not deserve it (Genesis 45:1-15). With the Lord Jesus hanging on Calvary’s cross, utterly rejected of Israel, He cries out on their behalf: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

While Joseph inhabited Egypt, a famine afflicted both it and Canaan (where Jacob and his other sons were living). Joseph’s promotion in Egypt was the LORD God’s way of preparing them all for the impending food shortage (see Genesis 41–44). “And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:7,8). Also, Jesus is Israel’s Saviour, “Jesus” being the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “Joshua,” “for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Believe it or not, the comparisons continue….

Joseph and Jesus #7

Thursday, January 26, 2023

“These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report” (Genesis 37:2 KJV).

Let us search the Scriptures to see how Joseph is a type of the antitype Jesus….

Pharaoh, impressed by Joseph’s wisdom, promotes him to become the second in command in Egypt: “Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:40-43).

Similarly, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Second Member of the Godhead, plays a subservient role to Father God: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).

Joseph suffered pitifully then reigned magnificently. Also, Jesus’ horrific suffering precedes His glorious exaltation to a throne (see 1 Peter 1:10,11). However, they merge even more fully….

Joseph and Jesus #6

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

“These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report” (Genesis 37:2 KJV).

Let us search the Scriptures to see how Joseph is a type of the antitype Jesus….

Joseph was arrested, shackled and imprisoned (Genesis 39:20). Nearly 17 centuries later, the Lord Jesus was also detained and chained as a convict (Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1; John 18:12).

Ponder Genesis 40:1-4: “And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers. And he put them in ward [jail] in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound. And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward.” While incarcerated, Joseph met two criminals. Likewise, the Bible says of Jesus: “Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left” (Matthew 27:38; cf. Mark 15:27; Luke 23:32,33; John 19:18).

Once the chief butler and the chief baker have their respective dreams, the LORD God enables Joseph to interpret them (see Genesis 40:5-23). The butler is redeemed, restored to fellowship with Pharaoh (verses 9-15,20,21)—but the baker is condemned and hanged (verses 16-19,22)!

Likewise, one thief crucified with Jesus was saved, and the other was lost: “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:39-43).

The resemblances continue still….

The Word Was Made Flesh

Sunday, December 25, 2022

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1,14 KJV).

On this Christmas Day, we reflect on the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

The candidate who could solve man’s sin problem had to meet two requirements. He had to be God, and He had to be man—a “God-Man.” It had to be God, because God’s righteousness had to be satisfied, but it also had to be man, for it was man who had sinned. God’s righteousness was offended, since “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But, it was also a man who had sinned, “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Consider Philippians 2:5-8: “Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” In short, heaven’s best—Jesus Christ—came to save earth’s worst—us! In summary, Jesus Christ was born to die for us.

Brethren, the salvation that we enjoy today in Christ could not be possible without the shed blood of Christ on Calvary’s cross, and the shed blood of Christ could not be possible without the incarnation of Christ! God is a Spirit (John 4:24), and in order for Him to shed sinless blood, He had to first have blood. Thus, it behooved Jesus Christ to take upon Himself the form of a man. It was at this time of year that God the Son entered the virgin Mary’s womb, possessing a body that was conceived by the Holy Ghost.

Remember, “The Word was made flesh” (today’s Scripture) so we could have an opportunity to be “made the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Merry Christmas!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. It can be read here or watched here.

Lead By Good Example

Monday, November 28, 2022

“And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself” (Luke 23:35-37 KJV).

When we compare today’s Scripture to Matthew chapter 27, we can make an interesting deduction….

As the Lord Jesus is crucified, they make fun of Him, taunting and insulting Him. They simply cannot fathom how this “great” “Saviour,” this “mighty” “King,” could now seem so defenseless while they mercilessly torture Him. Why does He not deliver Himself? The Roman soldiers tease Him, “If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.” From where did they get this notion?

If we turn to the Book of Matthew, we find these remarks: “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 now come down from the cross, and we will believe him” (Matthew 27:41,42). These “chief priests,” “scribes” (Bible copyists and teachers), and “elders” (aged men) are all members of Israel’s leadership. Apparently, once the Jews ridiculed the Lord, the Gentiles heard it and copied them! This was a reversal of God’s Old Testament hope for Israel, for the Jewish people (the worshippers of the one true God, sole possessors of His Book) were to be good spiritual examples to the Gentiles (who had nothing but mere idols and darkness).

“Therefore I [a Jew] will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen [Gentiles], and I will sing praises unto thy name” (2 Samuel 22:50). “O praise the LORD, all ye nations [Gentiles]: praise him, all ye people” (Psalm 117:1). Declare his glory among the heathen [Gentiles], his wonders among all people” (Psalm 96:3). Saints, lest we be like ancient, apostate Israel at Calvary’s cross, may we properly represent the LORD before the unsaved world around us—leading them to honor the LORD instead of dislike Him!

NOTE: Brethren, this is our final original devotional for 2022, as our classic Christmas studies will now run the rest of the year.

The Greatest Veteran

Friday, November 11, 2022

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14,15 KJV).

Today is Veterans’ Day in the United States, so let us especially thank the “Greatest Veteran of All Time.”

We thank veterans, living and departed, the often-forgotten men and women who risked their lives to secure our freedom. Just as we remember flesh-and-blood veterans who fought for our physical liberty, we reserve our worship and utmost respect for the least esteemed Veteran, He who secured our spiritual liberty.

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Through Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary, we have eternal victory over sin, death, hell, and Satan. Everything that God has planned for us is dependent upon Christ’s victory at Calvary.

Jesus Christ nailed the Mosaic Law to His cross (today’s Scripture). His sinless blood covered our failure to obey God’s laws; Jesus’ righteousness annulled our unrighteousness (sin). Christ not only liberated us from sin and its penalty (the everlasting lake of fire), but today’s Scripture affirms He also triumphed over Satan himself!

Christ has “spoiled [destroyed] principalities and powers [Satan’s power], he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it [His cross].” Jesus Christ destroyed Satan’s plans. Through Christ’s cross, God has “delivered us from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13), Satan’s evil system of Ephesians 2:1-3.

During a recent cemetery visit, I noticed American flags flying above deceased veterans’ headstones. These individuals can no longer hear or regard our thanks, but Jesus Christ’s body is not decaying in some tomb. If there ever was a Veteran most worthy of our gratitude, it is our Lord Jesus Christ. Though He died in battle, allowing Himself to be executed on a Roman cross of shame and scorn, He resurrected. He is alive and well today, alive forevermore!

Saints, eternity will ring with our thanks to the Veteran worth thanking, the Lord Jesus Christ.

*Adapted from our 2010 Bible study, “The Greatest Hero.” The Bible study video can be viewed here.

The Greatest War Hero

Monday, May 30, 2022

“For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV).

In the United States, today is Memorial Day, when we remember those who sacrificed their time and lives to provide our physical freedom. Likewise, as Christians, we have spiritual freedom, which was more costly. Someone had to die to give us the eternal life we now enjoy….

Scripture describes a spiritual warfare between good and evil, God’s truth program versus Satan’s lie program: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11,12; see also verses 13-20).

Satan distracts mankind from God’s pure Word, the Bible, keeping unbelievers lost (dead in their sins), and preventing unbelievers and Christians from knowing God’s will. The devil draws them away (seduces them) from God’s Word by using religious tradition and human “wisdom” (1 Timothy 4:1-3; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Galatians 3:1-3).

God loves us, so at Calvary’s cross, Christ fought for us sinners, died in battle (today’s Scripture), shed His divine sinless blood, and eternally rescued us from Satan and sin: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14,15).

Hebrews 9:12 says Jesus Christ has “obtained eternal redemption for us.”

If we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). Now, God can use us for His glory for all eternity.

Beloved, let us rejoice in our victory over sin, death, and hell that Jesus Christ secured for us by going to Calvary’s rugged cross! Jesus Christ is now alive forevermore—He is our Hero, the Greatest Hero!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study “The Greatest Hero,” which can be read here or watched here.

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “What does ‘in array’ mean?” and “What does ‘environ’ mean?

The Bible’s Season of New Life

Monday, April 18, 2022

“God that made the world and all things therein… he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;” (Acts 17:24,25 KJV).

May we never forget the true meaning of Eastertime!

Satan is the master counterfeiter: from Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures reveal how the devil schemes to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Whatever God does, Satan defiles that work by introducing false doctrine, distracts mankind from God’s truth by mimicking His actions, discourages God’s people from His ministry by using incorrect thinking patterns, and so on. Why? Satan wants the worship that God alone deserves (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8).

Consider Christmastime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping the birth of the sun god in early winter—near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) took upon human flesh in the virgin Mary’s womb! Now, consider Eastertime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping fertility deities and new life in early spring, near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) died for our sins and resurrected victoriously over sin, death, hell, and Satan to give us new life! (To Satan’s delight, today’s average church member is not mindful of relevant sound Bible doctrine during Christmastime and Eastertime—the devil’s distractions have never lost their efficacy!)

The God of the Bible instituted in Israel a festival, Passover (the killing of a spotless lamb and its bloodshed in early spring), while they were still in Egypt (Exodus chapter 12)—Passover’s annual observance reminded them of JEHOVAH delivering them from Egyptian slavery unto new life. Israel did not understand its meaning until 1,500 years later. The true Passover lamb, Jesus Christ, died and shed His sinless blood during that annual Passover feast (early spring), and He resurrected in new life to give them spiritual life and liberty.

Yes, the pagans may have “hijacked” this time of year for the devil’s glory, but we can disregard their ignorance: spring is God’s season for new life. We can still use this season to bring the God of the Bible glory by remembering that He has given us physical life (today’s Scripture), and He offers us new life (that is, spiritual life) through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection! 🙂

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #2

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Do you ever wonder what our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking about while He hung there on Calvary’s cross?

Jesus knew Bible prophecy had to be fulfilled: He had to suffer in accordance with the Old Testament prophets. Even when He spoke seven times from the cross, He quoted various Old Testament verses. The Old Testament prophets also gave Him comfort: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (today’s Scripture).

For instance, He remembered that Jonah’s prophecy had to be fulfilled: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). On the third day, He would live again, and be reunited with His heavenly Father!

He knew that His Father would resurrect Him. His spiritual torment and physical death were only temporarily, as David quoted Jesus 1000 B.C., “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10; cf. Acts 2:24-31).

Our Lord thought of reigning over that glorious kingdom that His Heavenly Father would give Him after His resurrection. As the psalmist wrote centuries before Calvary’s crosswork, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm 2:6-8). “Begotten” refers to Jesus’ resurrection, not His nativity in Bethlehem (Acts 13:33,34).

Jesus Christ, during His torturous crucifixion, thought about and rejoiced in the promises in the Scriptures that applied to Him. Likewise, we, during difficult circumstances, can remember and joy in God’s promises to us—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

We too can share Messiah’s joy amidst grief! 🙂

See our archived Q&A: “Did the disciples go to the wrong tomb on Resurrection Sunday?