Loved on the Cross
“Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43 NIV)
He was a thief. He took things that were not his, but did the punishment match the crime? The Bible never says what crime he committed. Nowhere does it mention the deed done that placed him on that tree. What did he steal that would cost him his life? What was so precious that deemed him worthy of the worst type of death?
We also aren't told how he was introduced to a life of crime. Was he stealing to survive? Did he come from a meager background where stealing was a means to live one more day? Did he do it for the thrill of the chase, or the joy of the challenge to outwit the law? No matter what the cause, the sentence was death on a Roman cross. He was beaten within an inch of his life, he was stripped of his clothes and hung on a couple of used boards and placed there to die with two others. One he knew, and the other knew him.
The sum total of all his decisions brought him to the cross that day. Yet, this is the epitome of “all things work together for good…” the horrors of his decisions put him face to face with the Savior.
Have you ever found yourself bearing the harsh penalty of something you knew was wrong? Have you felt that you’ve messed up so bad that you deserve bad things? Have you accepted the fact that your life is destined to failure for acts you have committed? You may be right… right next to the One that can change your destiny for this life and the next.
The very day that was supposed to be his last, was, in fact, the one that gave him life. He was there to die but look at the beauty of his death. Had he been a “better” criminal; if he was more cerebral in the item(s) he took, he may have been given life in prison or gotten off on parole. He would’ve lived, but never had life, eternal life. We see a living example of Paul’s words, “...But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.” (Romans 5:20, NLT).
Christ was there dying for his sins and that day offered him salvation. Here we see God’s love showing up on our worst days. The day of death became the day the thief received new life. You may be reading this and feel like you’ve done too much or gone too far. I share this story with you to remind you that even on those days, He loves you. In spite of what people have said about you or where your circumstances have placed you, He still loves you. And today, the same way Jesus offered heaven to the criminal on the cross, he opens up His home to let you know He has a place for you too!
“My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2 NIV)
- Could you see yourself like the thief that day wrestling to get free? Crying out to anyone within earshot that this isn’t fair or what you did wasn’t this deep?
- What elements of providence have you seen that brought you closer to God, even on your bad days?