The majority are not always right. Sometimes it needs one person with a different view, a new idea or a bold opinion to get us all to see what has been staring us in the face.
The people crowding around the grisly execution scene outside Jerusalem were all agreed; the man hanging there is a fake – no-one can now take seriously his claim to be a divine king or saviour. So what if his name, Jesus, means ‘The Lord Saves’; he can’t even save himself! So what if some gave him the royal title ‘Christ’; does he look like someone who is in charge? National leaders, soldiers, another condemned man – they all speak with the same sneer: “Save yourself if you are the King!”
But another dying man sees things differently. In great pain, his mind is still strong enough to resist the majority view; he calls out, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” One man who realises that Jesus is indeed a king with a kingdom, one man who believes that knowing Jesus (or rather being known by him) will matter forever: “Remember me!”
Time is running out for Jesus; now would be the opportunity for him to end the pretence and confess that he has been misleading people with all his talk of coming from the Father to seek and to save the lost. Instead Jesus’ reply shows that nothing has changed, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
The crowd thinks that Jesus has ended up on the cross because he couldn’t save himself. Jesus knows that he is there because that is how he will save others. He must die in our place bearing our guilt if he is to bring us back home to God his Father from the far-off country where we have taken ourselves. That is why he can immediately offer forgiveness to a convicted criminal (and to anyone else). My debt is paid.
So are you stuck in the crowd or have you seen what this man saw? While everyone else shelters behind the popular mood of the day this man alone accepts Jesus’ authority over him and receives the rescue that Jesus alone provides.