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.
Often we don’t notice differences or similarities in things until they are compared side by side. Something that is dirty may look clean on its own until it is compared to something pure and spotless. A gem with an imperfection may look fine until it is compared next to one in mint condition. Twins may look the same if we see each one separately, but when we see them both together, we can notice subtle differences.
Jesus wasn’t the only one crucified on the hill that day. Two men flanked Him on either side, thieves found guilty and condemned to death. One man’s heart was hardened, and he joined the mocking of the crowd. But the other man looked at Jesus and saw the differences between Jesus and himself. This man knew who he was. He was a thief. He had committed a crime. He was guilty as charged. He may have thought that it was a harmless crime, that it wasn’t a big deal. But as he compared himself to Jesus’ innocence, his sense of guilt grew. He saw now that he deserved his death on the cross, but Jesus did nothing wrong and did not deserve to die.
When we view ourselves apart from Christ’s perfection, we may think we don’t look so bad. We’ll gloss over our own imperfections, feeling we’re doing pretty well. We may feel our sins aren’t that big of a deal, that it’s nothing too serious. But when we stand next to Jesus, the spotless Lamb, all of our faults are magnified. Our souls are dingy and stained compared to Christ’s purity. Our lives are rough, broken and chipped compared to Jesus’ smooth perfection. And when we come to this realization, our lives can be transformed in an amazing way, just like the thief on the cross.
With Christ’s blood applied, we receive a new likeness. Our rough edges are repaired, our spotted souls are washed white as snow. And when God’s examining eye looks at us compared to His Son, He sees Christ’s perfection in us. Yes, we will still make mistakes. We won’t be perfect while we’re still on this Earth, but we can be continually conformed to His image. Let’s make it a habit to compare ourselves to Christ’s standard, to recognize our own sinfulness compared to His righteousness, and be thankful for His grace in our lives.