I recently noticed something new about the thieves who hung on either side of Jesus. One of today’s passages says:
…the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “… He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. Matthew 27: 41, 43-44
Something must have happened to one of those thieves, because:
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:40-43
I never noticed that in Matthew and Mark BOTH of the thieves revile Jesus, but in Luke, one of them reveals his faith. Something happened to change that man’s heart from reviler to believer. Perhaps he transformed by watching the sinless Son of Man as He died for our sins.
I’ve always loved the last sentence of the Luke passage, too. It tells me that the minute a believer dies, he or she will be ushered into Jesus’ presence in “paradise.”
That’s great comfort, indeed.
Dear Lord: Thank you that you can change the heart of anyone, including the robber hanging next to you on the cross. Keep changing me. Amen.