I wrote this post several years ago – seems only a little while ago – after hearing a sermon from Joe Focht, from Calvary Chapel Philadelphia that talked about the thief that was saved. I like this post and think of it often, so I wanted to share it again. I pray it is a blessing to you. Peace, until he comes!
Originally written March 25th, 2005 on 70-7s.com.
Well it’s Good Friday. And I find myself feeling thoughtful and sad. The events of this past week have just been tough and it would only benefit me if I listed them. For whatever reason, my heart has been focusing on the thieves that are hung there next to Jesus. At first, in their arrogance, they mock and jeer Jesus. Calling on Him to save Himself and them. I am certain that, had it not been for their unfortunate circumstances – being nailed down, they would have spit on and hit Him as well.
But as time goes on something seems to change in one of the thieves, maybe it is the fact that he has heard Jesus say “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Maybe it was watching and listening to Jesus talk to John and asking him to take care of His mother or calling out, in as loud of a voice as a dying man can muster, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? (my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?) Or, maybe it was the fact that in his dying he starts to realize the many bad choices in his life. Asking himself, “How did I get here?” and saying,”I am going to die and I’ve been wrong.”
As one thief takes opportunity to mock Jesus again, the other, whose heart is beginning to change, calls back, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” And in my mind I imagine him looking in Jesus’ eyes with tears in his own saying, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Wow! Talk about repentance (changing of the mind)! Then Jesus says back, without an ounce of gall, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
At that moment all of the weight of the years of his life is lifted. All of the poor choices and bad decisions are swept away and the angels in heaven rejoice – he is saved!
My point is a subtle one and may, in many ways familiar. I find that in my life I pursue religion more than God. I do what I am asked but in my mind I wish they hadn’t asked me. I give and wish I could spend more on me. I serve and I wish I could take a nap. We put on religious practices – going to church, prayer meetings, Bible studies all of which are good, but our hearts can so often be far from the Lord. But in the scene above, we have none of that. No pursuit of “looking” godly, no false piety, no baptism, no church donation, and no service in His Name. Just a broken man with nothing left of his own to use. He calls out to Jesus and Jesus loves him – even while He Himself is being poured out.
So I close with this – we, being in the unfortunate circumstance – NOT being nailed down, that we would seek God with our whole heart, not looking for satisfaction in the world but solely resting in Him.
Lord, this Good Friday, let me come to You as this thief, broken and empty that You would come and fill the spaces left where I once thought life was and replace it with new life in You. “Empty handed but alive in Your hands!”