Read Mark 15:32; Hebrews 4:7; Revelation 20:11-15; Luke 23:39-43; Revelation 22:17
Spring arrived this week, and though I really enjoy winter, I love the hope of spring. My husband and I began thinking about additions to the garden and yard in January. As a result of our searching on the Internet, we now receive daily offers. Since we have most of our new plants ordered, I pretty much ignore what pops into my inbox each day. No Rainbow Rose Collection for me. I have passed up the "Last Chance" to save 75% and the "$100 off" with coupon code, paying no attention to the warning that the offer will soon expire. I haven't opted out of these e-mails because I enjoy their daily cheerful messages, even though I'm doing nothing with them. They will all expire having not truly altered our lives in any tangible way. Even if those offers are never repeated, it will make no difference in the long run.
How different in its gravity Jesus' offer is. It is specific and held out to us as a loving warning to everyone, John 3:16; John 5:24; John 8:23-24; John 14:6. Jesus' gift is precious and costly, Hebrews 9:12. He is patiently continuing to offer salvation, 1 Peter 3:8-9. Yet, there will come a day, known only to God, when the time to receive His grace and Mercy will come to an end. This is as certain as was the day when the Lord shut the door of the ark during Noah's time, Genesis 7:13-16. No wonder God reminds us in Hebrews 4:7 that today is the day to respond to His voice. Let's look into the scriptures for an example of one man who received Jesus' loving provision and one man who spurned the Savior's love.
In Mark 15:31, we are reminded that the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus both mocked Him at first. In Luke 23:39-43, we read "the rest of the story". He tells us that neither of these men had been falsely accused. Both deserved their punishment. Both heard Jesus' calling out to the Father for the forgiveness of those who were there. We don't know exactly when it happened, but on that day, one man became born anew, becoming a new creation, John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17. He saw Who Jesus was in His righteousness, and himself as a guilty sinner. No doubt there was much this repentant man didn't know. However, he understood that Jesus would be in a kingdom, and he wanted to be with Him. On the other hand, there is little doubt that the second wicked man died in his sin, even after having been witnessed to by the one who had also initially shared his contempt for Jesus. Even in death, Jesus held out His love. One man said yes and is now with his Savior. One man said no and is now awaiting the white throne judgment, Revelation 20:11-15. The first man has been experiencing fullness of joy, Psalm 16:11. The second man has been in torment, Luke 16:23-24.
Jesus can't be passively enjoyed the way I look at and do nothing with the flower offers I receive. Simply knowing about the Savior, even if a person isn't hateful towards Him, doesn't make him right with God. Each person must make the choice to receive Him, John 1:11-12.
There are two final things I would like to say about the Lord Whose warnings are both urgent and loving. They both concern joy. Jesus gave His life for us, bearing our sins in His body, 2 Corinthians 5:21. He suffered the shame and being forsaken by His Father for the joy that would be His, Hebrews 12:2. That joy is at least, in part, those of us Who have said yes to Him and those who will run to Him for refuge before it is too late. What about those like the second criminal who said no? There is no joy in heaven because of his choice, Ezekiel 33:11. We serve a God Who longs to pour out His grace, Ephesians 2:8-9, but He will not allow sin to go unpunished. If what Jesus offers is ignored, there is no other remedy for sin available to us.
Lord, Thank You for loving us and making both our need for You and Your personal love for us known in Your Word. Show us how to plainly and boldly tell others about You, as You provide us with the strength and opportunities.