Three Crosses at Calvary – John 19:18

There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

John 19:18 NIV

When Jesus was crucified there were two others crucified with him, one on his right, and one on his left. Was there some significance in having one criminal on his right and one on his left? Since all four gospel writers saw fit to include this detail, it would seem to have some importance. But none of the gospels give us a reason for it.

In Matthew 25: 31-46 Jesus tells a parable, and in it he divides people between his right and left hands, with those on the right entering the kingdom and those on the left cast into hell. In Luke 23:39-43 we find that one of the criminals crucified with Jesus repented and was saved, while the other remained lost. Can these passages teach us something about the other crosses?

Jesus hung on the middle one, the cross of atonement and redemption. Could it be that the repentant thief was on the cross on his right, the cross of repentance. And that the cross on his left is the cross of perdition? In a sense, we are all going to encounter Jesus at the cross. But will it be with repentance, resulting in an eternity with Christ? Or will it be with rejection, resulting in eternal damnation?

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