The Thief on the Cross

March 30, 2018

 

 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him, "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us."

 

But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

 

Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

 

Battered and bruised, torn and taunted, Jesus hung in agony on a wooden cross between two thieves. The crowd's cries of hatred filled the air as Jesus' blood fell to the ground. As the two thieves hung on their crosses condemned to die for their sins, they were beside the Savior - yet only one acknowledged the Messiah. The insults and words of one thief testify to a hardened heart: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

 

This man and his words represent the responses of many today toward Jesus. There are those who close their hearts to Jesus and say, "If only you would prove yourself to me, I would believe. If only you would do this one miracle for me, I would turn my life over to you." Even if Jesus would have miraculously freed Himself from the cross, or if today He allowed a miracle to occur in efforts to convince nonbelievers of His love, it wouldn't be enough to change their hearts. Just like the one thief, whose heart was hardened, one who rejects Jesus has his heart filled with self, leaving no room for Christ to take the throne of his life.

 

On that day, as one thief hung on his cross, condemned to death, he willingly missed knowing the One who grants everlasting life. The other thief, though, was redeemed through Christ's grace and love. The poignant words of the thief who rebuked the other beautifully illustrate a receptive heart to Christ's love - "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." This man knew that he lived a terrible life, but he recognized the Savior of the world, knowing that His grace was sufficient to cover the dirtiness of his past.


The everlasting mercy of Jesus was evident as He looked at the thief and said, " I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

 

It is unmistakable that this thief had filled his life with sin; even he recognized it by his words, saying that the cross was a just punishment for his past. Jesus saw this man's receptive heart and desire for His love and as a result, he would join Jesus in the paradise of heaven. This thief and his life can serve as a powerful illustration for our lives - covered in the mistakes and sinful choices, deserving to be punished for our tainted lives, but through the grace of Christ, not by our own life or works, redeemed through Christ's blood to spend eternity in heaven.

 

 Just as those two thieves, we have a choice to make - to harden our hearts to the love of Christ or to openly accept the free gift of salvation. On that day, Jesus willingly died for us all on a wooden cross between two thieves. The selfless act of Jesus Christ as He shed His blood on that cross openly allowed all, no matter one's past choices or mistakes, to spend eternity in heaven if we believe and put our trust in Jesus. When the day comes that you breathe your last breath of life, if just as the thief on the cross you've chosen the free gift of salvation, the words of Jesus will ring true to you - "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." ~

 

{Written by: Jenny Cox Holman}

  

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MississippiMatters is a news blog of cooperative writers, videographers and podcasters published by  The Well Writers Guild, a 501c3 devoted to mentoring Mississippi writers and to addressing uncovered or under-covered topics.  MississippiMatters focuses on offering creative "takes" on our state's culture, ideas, events and more.