The thief on the cross presesnts a dynamic illustration of grace in action. There is Jesus, beaten, bruised, pained by the nails piercing his hands and feet and the thorns still pressing into his brow. Death is slow but not far away that He cannot sense it's icy fingers creeping up. He is weighed down by the oppressing force of mankinds sin; a sin that pushes him further and further away from His Father. It's a separation that He has not known and cannot bear especially in the last agonising moments of His life. The darkness that surrounds Him causes Him to cry out for His Father. But His presence is not felt. The acrid taunting, ugliness of sin is too thick; too blatant.
Then a voice to His right cries out to Him. It too in pain. It too, close to death; a death that has been earned. "Lord, remember me when you shall come into your kingdom" (Luke 23:42) It's a request that in the face of glory recognises its depravity and the nothingness of its life. It knows that it has nothing to recommend it yet, it still cries out; not boldly; timidly; desperate not to let the moment go. Unsure of the answer, but knowing that it must, its only strength-faith.
Jesus lifts His bloodied head. His strength is renewed for a moment for virtue is reaching out a hand to one in need of a lifeline. He then utters unhesitatingly, words that of all that the thief ever heard would hold, to him, the greatest value. "I tell you this today you shall be with me in paradise." That thief died knowing that even though his life had been one of emptiness and wickedness. Even though he was dying a death of shame because of the wrong path he had ventured and enjoyed for most of his life, today he was renewed and forgiven. God had forgiven him. Grace reached out and cast a lifeline even in death.
That's the power of grace.
John 3:16Why not take a few minutes to read:
For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten son,
that whosoever believeth in him
should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
On what Christ did for you, so that you would not have to.