Luke 23:38-43 “And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
It goes without saying that Calvary was the pivotal point in human history! From the very moment that Christ was suspended between heaven and earth, fruit began to appear; one such case was a penitent thief on a cross. Within the text we can identify at least three areas that one might consider the firstfruits of Calvary with respect to this malefactor.
He is the firstfruits of Calvary with respect to the conversion of the sinner; “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” From the darkness of sin and depravity, this sinner would receive the illuminating light of the Holy Spirit in which he would see the sinfulness of self, “for we receive the due reward of our deeds”, the sinlessness of the Saviour, “this man hath done nothing amiss”, and the secret of salvation, “Lord, remember me.” I love the words of Charles Stanford, “Saved on the last day of his life! Then he was justified by faith without works . . . never baptized, and never was at a communion table. There was no time for penance, no time for restitution; he had no influence in society; he had no money to leave; promises could be of no use, he had no future. He had no hands, no feet for service. There was only the look of the dying sinner to the dying Saviour.”
He is the firstfruits of Calvary with respect to the communion of the Saviour, “Father, forgive them” (vs.34). Having interceded on behalf of sinners; the Father immediately answered the request of His Son and granted the thief on the cross immediate forgiveness; “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The Father had never denied even one of His Son’s earthly petitions, “And I knew that thou hearest me always” (John 11:42) and He would never refuse to answer His eternal petition!
He is the firstfruits of Calvary with respect to the coronation of the Sovereign, “comest into thy kingdom.” As the exalted Sovereign, God hath “given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” (Philippians 2:9-10); and He “is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (I Timothy 6:15). One day He will come back to establish His Kingdom, and Paul tells us that “we shall also reign with him” (II Timothy 2:12).
While this penitent malefactor would appear to be the firstfruits of Calvary, he would not be the last; Calvary is still yielding fruit!