March 16 – Transformation Testimonies – The Thief on the Cross

Read Luke 23:32-43

As long as there is still life, it’s not too late!

There were three men who hung there that day.  Each of them had grown up in his own family.  Each of them was known by others beyond their family…whether by reputation and word of mouth or by personal encounters.  The man in the middle…well, he was different.  He was an innocent man.  Both Pilate and one of the men hanging at his side had recognized that there was no reason for His execution (Lk. 23:4, 14, 41).

But, the other two?  Their story is different.  The gospels don’t give us an full description of them and their past.  We know them only as “criminals” (v. 32).  Matthew describes them as “rebels” (Matt. 27:28, 44 also translated in the NASB as “robbers”).  But whatever their crime(s), one of them admits that the punishment was fitting with the crime.  They had done something worthy of capital punishment (v. 41).  As they hung on either side of this Man whose reputation as a religious man, bitter insults were the only thing that came to mind…for both of them initially (Matt. 27:44).

Thief on crossIf you were a family member or loved one for either of these two men, would you have been in the crowd as the nails were pounded deep and the crosses were swung into their vertical positions?  Doubtful.  Even if you had come initially, would you have been able to stay till the sad end?  Probably not.  You would likely want to avoid the memory of having that visual image of a last desperate breath drawn.

But you would have missed it!

You would have missed the repentant cry!  You would have missed the extension of grace!  You would have missed the promise of paradise!  You would have missed a smile of peace in the midst of agony!  You would have missed life transformation in the dying moments of a man’s life!

Is there anyone you know that you have written off?  Anyone whose life has seemingly spiraled out of control?  Anyone who, in your mind, will never turn to the Savior and experience life change?  Don’t give up.  Keep reaching out.  Keep offering the gracious forgiveness of Jesus.

As long as there is still life, it’s never too late!

Steve Kern

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