January 30 – Wait, who? – Thief on the Cross

Read Luke 23:32-43

“The Thief on the Cross” is only known to us by the sin he committed.  We don’t know why he stole, what or even when it all happened.  We don’t know if it was a matter of desperation or peer pressure.  We don’t know if he stole from the rich, the poor, his neighbor or a stranger.  We do know, however, his punishment had been justified because he told us so. (vs 41). We also don’t know what he had heard about this Messiah who had been preaching around the area.

But none of that mattered to Jesus.  When the man came face to face with Jesus, he acknowledged Him to be the one true Son of God, able to forgive sins, confessed that what he had done was wrong. Then he asked to be saved and it was granted. For that reason, I prefer to call him the “Forgiven Man on the Cross”.

Jesus forgave him, so why shouldn’t we? Why do we hold grudges against people who have done wrong things and have asked for forgiveness?  Why do we hold in our memories the things people have done in the past, maybe even have gone to jail for, yet have turned their lives around? Do you only know these people, not by their names but the wrongs they have done?  Do you forget all the great things they may have done before they yielded to temptation? We have ALL sinned and, if you say you don’t, you just did!

Judging people is not our job. That is God’s job. Our job is to love our neighbors as ourselves. If you don’t want to be a person who is nameless to everyone else and only known by the bad things you do, make sure you know the names of those you meet not by what they might have done.  Get to know their “story” – what makes them tick.  Let them know you care and introduce them to your friend and Savior Jesus. There was a sign that was posted long ago that said, “People don’t care what you know until they know you care!” They aren’t going to listen to you until you listen to them. That includes your own kids!

We know what happened to the Forgiven Man on the Cross; however, what about the others?  The really sad part of this story is the fact that the other thief who was in the same circumstances joined the blinded jeering crowd, soldiers and even rulers in mocking Jesus as He hung there for THEIR sins!  We don’t know what happened to them after they died. We can only hope that what happened 3 days later drew them to repent of their sins and they joined the Forgiven Man in paradise!

Pat Arnold

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