ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS

THE SECOND THIEF

 

What does it take to 'get to heaven'? How much knowledge do we need? How many 'good works' do we have to do? How 'religious' do we have to be?

Neither of the two criminals crucified on either side of Jesus had any 'good works' to their credit. Neither had a great deal of knowledge about Jesus. But to one of them Jesus promised: 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'

What made the difference?

This second thief knew two things: he knew who he was, and he knew who Jesus was.

He knew that he himself was a sinner. He said 'We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.'

He acknowledged the perfection of Jesus: 'This man has done nothing wrong.'

He also acknowledged that Jesus is the King of the Kingdom of God: 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' He knew that this dying Jesus was not here being conquered and consumed by death, but that he would conquer death, rising from death to live again as King, with the authority to admit or deny entry into his kingdom.

So he cast himself and his eternal destiny into the merciful hands of Jesus: 'Jesus, remember me.'

He had nothing that could gain him access into the kingdom of God, and he knew it. All his hope, his one last hope, for life with God beyond this death, was focused in Jesus alone.

    • Not much knowledge. But it was accurate knowledge of both himself and of Jesus.
    • Not much knowledge. But it was enough to make him trust not in himself, but in Jesus.
    • Not much knowledge. But it generated humble faith, not mocking pride.

And there, in his last earthly minutes, he was blessed with the firm promise of Jesus. Today, not in some vague, unidentified future, today you will be with me in paradise.

With this peace he died.

In this peace he yet lives.

Even so may we.

 

Scripture: Luke 23:38-43

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004,2009