Ethan Tripodi - Life On Mission Blog

"The Man On The Middle Cross Said I Can Come"

Alistair Begg gives a gripping illustration of why anyone gets to enter heaven. "Why should you be let in?", the angel asks. The answer to which has only one form, and it's not in the first person.

Life on Mission Blog/Reflective Reviews/"The Man On The Middle Cross Said I Can Come"

Ethan Tripodi

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Thief On The Cross - An Illustration

When I first saw this short clip I must have watched it a dozen times.

Since then, the gripping question, "on what basis are you here" has run through my hears, into my heart, well over a hundred; each time with just as much awe, if not more.

This is the heart of the gospel.

It is not anything we do that lets us into heaven; nothing we have, not even anything we know.

This illustration by Alister Begg is not exaggerated.

The thief on the cross had literally nothing he could even hope to present before God as reason for his entrance into heaven.

Even in referring to Jesus as the "man on the middle cross" illustrates to us the possibility that the thief potentially did not even know the name of Jesus.

That's because it's not about whether you know the name of Jesus. 

It's not even about whether you call him "Lord" (Mat 7:22).

It's about whether your heart has been humbled, touched, and transformed by the Lord's perfect work.

This means that when we enter those pearly gates, we ought to only say...

"The man on the middle cross said I can come."

The illustration goes like this:

Think about the thief on the cross. What an immense… I can’t wait to find that fellow one day to ask him, “How did that shake out for you? Because you were cussing the guy out with your friend. You’d never been in a Bible study. You’d never got baptized. You didn’t know a thing about church membership. And yet—and yet, you made it! You made it! How did you make it?”

That’s what the angel must have said—you know, like, “What are you doing here?”

“Well, I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know?”

“Well, ’cause I don’t know.”

“Well, you know… Excuse me. Let me get my supervisor.”

They go get the supervisor angel: “So, we’ve just a few questions for you. First of all, are you clear on the doctrine of justification by faith?”

The guy says, “I’ve never heard of it in my life.”

“And what about… Let’s just go to the doctrine of Scripture immediately.”

This guy’s just staring.

And eventually, in frustration, he says, “On what basis are you here?”

And he said, “The man on the middle cross said I can come.”

Ethan Tripodi is a missionary with Youth for Christ Australia and his mission role is made possible through the prayer and financial support from individuals and organisations just like you.

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. Colossians 1:28-29, ESV.

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