You may want to “hang” me after your read the next sentences. I warn you ahead of time I am going to be “hung up” on the word “hang” for a few moments. Like many other words in the English language, the word “hang” can have several different meanings according to context and usage. In days gone by to “hang” somebody meant to kill them by tying a rope attached from above around the neck and removing the support from beneath. When used as a form of capital punishment people referred to it as ” a hanging.” But to “hang” does not necessarily refer to putting to death. We “hang” clothes in the closet, pictures on the wall, hats on a peg or even a nail. Then, some people identify where they reside as the place where “I hang my hat.” To “hang up” commonly means to end a phone conversation. But wait – to be “hung up” on something is to be extremely interested in or worried about or preoccupied with it. A jury can be “hung” meaning that they are unable to agree on a verdict. Ever found yourself “hung up” in traffic on the interstate? Then there is the slang usage of “hang” as in “hanging with” or perhaps “hang out with.” According to the Online Slang Dictionary this use of “hang” is a verb and means “to relax, usually with friends; to chill.” The parallel to this verb is the noun “hang” which means “a place at which one relaxes, as in, “Come see our new hang?” If you are older, you might better recognize this usage as a “hangout.”
Let us shift directions. When Jesus was crucified, Luke 23:32-33 tells us, “There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 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” (Matthew 27:38 calls the criminals “robbers”). Luke 23:39-43 relates an astonishing conversation between the three men as they suffered on their crosses. “One of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save yourself and us’ ” (vs 39). Matthew 27:44 relates both robbers had earlier reviled the Lord. But now, one robber, clearly undergoing a change of heart, defended Jesus, rebuking the other criminal, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing we are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong” (vs 40). Both criminals were “hanging” with Jesus on their own cross. But one was “hanging” with Jesus in far more than a physical way. Even as he inches toward certain death on his cross, this desperate criminal clearly knows enough about Christ to believe there is hope beyond death. Desperately he pleads in vs 41, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” We don’t have space to consider all that he had in mind. But something mind- boggling happened that day – Jesus promised that penitent criminal in vs 43, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Whoa – who’d have thunk it?! Where would you have thought that thief would end up judging from appearances at the cross? Christ had power on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6), and He clearly forgave this thief before he died and took him to Paradise later that day! Careful now – this side of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ you and I must exercise faith and obey the gospel in order to receive forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 2:8-9 * Hebrews 5:9 * Mark 16:15-16 *Acts 2:38; 22:16). All that being said, let us “hang” our hopes on Jesus. If He could and would save a penitent thief who hung with Him in death, surely He will save you and me if we hang with Him in life! Hallelujah! Hang with Jesus!