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The Man in The Middle

The thief next to Jesus did nothing to earn salvation. He probably never read the Bible. He certainly never read the New Testament.

He wasn’t Baptist or Reformed. He didn’t have his Christology, Ecclesiology, or Eschatology all figured out. He never published a book or a paper, never went to seminary, never took a class in evangelism, and he never studied the church fathers.

He never spoke in tongues, never planted a church, never participated in the Lord’s Supper, was never baptized - sprinkled, poured, dipped, immersed - trine or otherwise. He never went to youth camp, served at AWANA, or went on a mission trip. He never went to church - not even once.

But here’s what we do know: The thief said to the other criminal, “We are punished justly, for we are receiving what our actions deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” And Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Some have debated the meaning of “paradise,” arguing it’s not heaven at all. Well, they can go on debating but here’s what I know: as long as I’m with Jesus, I figure nothing else really matters - period.

I imagine when the repentant thief got to heaven someone, or maybe some angel, may have had the audacity to query, “What are YOU doing here?” And I imagine he probably responded, “Well, all I know is the man in the middle said I could come.”

Case closed. The man in the middle is no mere man. He is Immanuel, God with Us, and He said you could come. He gave His very life to solidify the offer. No theology or religious experience is required, just the rejection of your sin and ask Him, Christ Jesus, our Sovereign Lord, to remember you and welcome you into His everlasting kingdom.

Here’s the thing though… if you don’t die immediately after, as that repentant thief did… you might consider spending the rest of your time here on earth telling everyone about The Man in The Middle who invited and welcomed YOU into His kingdom. Then, be sure to tell them that they’re all invited too.

Grace and Peace,

-Kevin M. Kelley

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