This has been a year of loss for us. Within the last two weeks we have watched the lives of two of our longtime friends ebb and succumb to the pangs of death, however we know that they are now free from their suffering and pain and in paradise with their Savior.
A while back, one of those friends told us that if he could choose to be any Bible character, it would be the thief on the cross. He knew he was a sinner and would be until his death, but he was also convinced that salvation was his, because of what His Savior had accomplished for him.
On that first Good Friday, Jesus was stretched out on a cross – felt the searing pain of the nails piercing through his hands and feet – was set up to ridicule by a mocking crowd who had only a few days before held Him up as their king. This innocent lamb of God was being crucified for the sins of the world.
It must’ve been quite a scene, as insults were hurled from the crowd along with those of the two criminals Jesus hung between. They also mocked Jesus, demanding that, if He was the Son of God, it was in His power to release all of them from this terrible death.
Somewhere during that time, one of the thieves began to hear the comforting words of His Savior. He wondered how this man could forgive His accusers. He thought about His care for His mother as His death approached. This man who had been falsely accused didn’t deserve to die, but his wrongdoing demanded it.
In that brief moment, the criminal came to faith and asked to be remembered by Christ. Those words of reassurance, “Today you will be with me in paradise,” were just the right ones to allow him to die in peace.
We can learn much from this story. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of what God expects of us. Nothing we can do is going to earn us a spot in heaven. In spite of this, it’s never too late to ask God for His forgiveness. If Jesus guaranteed salvation for this guilty man, He has also done it for you and me.
My time has come and I’m slowly fading
I deserve what I receive
Jesus when You are in Your kingdom
Could You please, please remember me?
Partial lyrics from “Thief”
POWELL, JOHNNY MAC / ANDERSON, SAMUEL TAI / AVERY, BRADLEY B. C. / CARR, DAVID / LEE, MARK D.