John 19: 16-27 …Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took

Jesus away. Carrying the cross by Himself, He went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). There they nailed Him to the cross.

In today’s culture the cross is an emblem we wear in gold around our necks, stain artfully in glass in our cathedrals and frame in carve wood in colorful paintings in our homes. But in Jesus’ day, the cross was the symbol of a death sentence. The horrific tool of torture for a condemned criminal. Crucifixion was designed to be excruciatingly painful – its purpose was to bring a person such agony that not only would his body convulse but he would become tormented psychologically. It was probably the ugliest, most vulgar and cruel form of death executed upon a person. And this is the way that our Lord Jesus chose to take the penalty of our sin upon Himself and die for us.

Yet in it’s hideous cruelty, we find beauty unparalleled. If you will look closely…there is an unmatched beauty in the cross. It is the BEAUTY OF GRACE.

Luke 23:39-43 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”, Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” NIV

There on the cross, Jesus was crucified with two thieves. One hurled insults and curses upon Jesus. But the other recognized that he was dying next to the very Son of God!

Jesus – even in His agony promises the thief that he would be saved and enter paradise with Jesus that very day! How can this be? Shouldn’t the thief at least prove his faith and get off that cross to do good works? How can such a vile offender receive salvation so freely? It’s called GRACE!

• Grace is.....favor that you do not deserve. Grace aggressively forgives.

• Grace apprehends you; plans ahead for you; chooses to lavishly love and bless you even when you don’t deserve it.

Romans 5:10 For while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!

Jesus had planned to meet that thief and lavish him with undeserved grace before the world began! And in the same way, His grace awaits you – full, free, miraculous, abundant – at the beautiful cross.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

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