There Were Three Crosses on Calvary
Copyright © December 1, 2020 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.
Scripture verses are from the two English translations of the Holy Bible:
NIV = New International Version.
NKJV = New King James Version.
The following is Chapter Twenty-Four in my book: The New Heaven and The New Earth.
Calvary is the name of a place near a gate just outside the walls of Jerusalem where criminals were crucified. Calvary is an anglicized English word that is derived from the Latin Vulgate "Calvariae Locus." Calvary is also called Golgotha. Golgotha is an Aramaic word that means the place of the Skull.
One day about 2,000 years ago Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night and he was bound. He was taken to the religious leaders of the Jews and they questioned Jesus in a mock trial at dawn. Shortly after dawn on Friday morning Jesus was delivered to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and Pilate had him beaten until He was almost dead. Pilate then sentenced Jesus to be crucified and he commanded his soldiers to nail Jesus to a wooden cross by His hands and feet. The cross was then elevated above the ground so that Jesus would bleed to death in the sun in front of everyone who passed by on their way into Jerusalem. Two condemned criminals, usually called thieves, were also crucified with Jesus early on Friday morning.
Let's take a look at what the Holy Bible says about the crucifixion of Jesus and the two thieves.
The Crucifixion of Jesus and the Two Thieves
Mark 15:1 NIV
1 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
Matthew 27:26 NIV
26 But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
John 19:16-18 NIV
16 So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 Here they crucified him, and with him two others -- one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
Mark 15:25-27 NIV
25 It was the third hour when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left.
Luke 23:32-48 NKJV
32 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." And they divided His garments and cast lots.
35 And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God."
36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, "If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself."
38 And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us."
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong."
42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.' " Having said this, He breathed His last.
47 So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, "Certainly this was a righteous Man!" 48 And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned.
John 19:31-37 NIV
31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," 37 and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced."
Matthew 27:57-66 NIV
57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first."
65 "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
Matthew 28:1-7 NIV
1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
A Brief Summary of the Above Scriptures
1. The Cross of Jesus:
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, and who accepts Jesus’ death as the full payment for all their sins, will be forgiven by God and they will spend eternity in Glory with Jesus.
Colossians 2:13-14 NKJV
13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
2. The Cross of the Repentant Thief:
The thief on the cross had committed sins that were so bad that he was being executed by the government. But the thief confessed his sins before God and before everyone who was watching him die. Then the thief spoke again and he publicly confessed his faith in Jesus and he asked Jesus to remember him. That day the thief had his sins forgiven by Jesus and the thief entered paradise.
The thief did exactly what Jesus asks us to do: repent of our sins, believe that Jesus is the Christ, and confess Him before others. Everyone who will do this will spend eternity in Glory with Jesus. This will happen even if a person only has the faith of a little child which is probably the type of faith the thief on the cross possessed (Luke 18:17).
3. The Cross of the Defiant Thief:
Two thieves were crucified with Jesus. When the thieves are mentioned the primary emphasis is on the thief who repented and who was forgiven by Jesus. In all my years as a Christian I have never heard a sermon or read a commentary about the other thief who was crucified.
However both thieves had the same opportunity to have their sins forgiven and to spend eternity in Glory with Jesus. The defiant thief hardened his heart and he refused to believe even as he was dying on the cross. One second after the thief died and he opened his eyes in hell, it is extremely probable that he regretted his decision just like the Rich Man in the story about the beggar Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31).
Today in the 21st century, after spending approximately 2,000 years in hell, the defiant thief is still regretting his decision to refuse to repent and his decision to not ask Jesus to have mercy on him.
Two condemned criminals, or thieves, were crucified with Jesus.
The most important decision that you will make during your entire life will be your decision about which of the two thieves you will follow into eternity.
- One thief repented and when he died his soul entered paradise.
- The other thief hardened his heart and he remained defiant until his death. Therefore when he died his soul went to hell.
Grandpappy's e-mail address is: RobertWayneAtkins@hotmail.com