Comments are off for this post

Were You There

Consider for a moment one of the thieves crucified with Jesus. He was a man whose luck had run out. He was being punished by death for crimes committed against his fellow man. In Matthew 27:44, we read that both thieves crucified with Jesus “heaped insults on him” along with many others in the crowd that day. According to the accounts that we read, it is possible that one of those two thieves had heard of Jesus prior to this day. The fact that he mocked Jesus tells us that he certainly didn’t put much credence in Jesus’ life, but he seemed to have some prior knowledge of Him. It is possible that he witnessed Jesus teaching or healing or reaching out to those in need. As he hung on the cross he may have been thinking that it was too late for him to receive any of goodness that might be available though Jesus. Like so many today, he very likely felt unworthy of any of the forgiveness Jesus could offer or that he could never be accepted by Jesus because of his past.
Whatever impression he may have had of Jesus before that day changed as he hung on the cross beside Jesus and watched him die. That thief was changed that day.
What changed the thief? Was it the way Jesus endured the pain? Was it the way He handled the ridicule of the soldiers or the taunting of the crowd? Was it the way Jesus spoke to his mother, Mary, in selfless love to ensure that she will be taken care of by John after Jesus was gone? Did the thief wonder if it was possible that Jesus might be able to love him too? He had witnessed Jesus asking the Father to forgive those who had inflicted so much pain on Him. Whatever it was, something changed him. That thief did something that set him apart from all others that day. He stood up for Jesus when Jesus was most alone. A common thief came to Jesus’ defense that day. He was aware Jesus had done nothing to deserve crucifixion, and he said that to everyone that day as he hung on the cross. The thief was saying that he had sinned and was guilty, that he was there because he deserved it, but not so with Jesus. As the account in Luke 23:39-43 informs us, the thief was broken and repentant before all and acknowledged that Jesus was who He claimed to be.
What would it have been like to be there that day? Where would you have stood? What would you have said about Jesus on that day?
Even though we don’t know much about the thief who was crucified with Jesus that day, it is possible that of all the people there we have the most in common with him. He was a man who was set free and saved that day, and he did nothing to deserve it. That is our story, too.
We are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness and grace. Our sins condemn us. Like the thief, we have been given the promise of eternal life. We are told in God’s word that the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus. Just as Jesus promised paradise to the thief that day, we share in that promise. One day in heaven we will meet the thief on the cross with whom we have so much in common.
(The preceding thoughts and some of the words were taken from “The Easter Experience” with Kyle Idleman.) Blessings to all of you, Doug

Comments are closed.