Blessed Criminal

One Sunday, during the sermon, my son kept pestering me to answer a question for him.  I was quietly trying to tell him he would need to wait because I was listening to the sermon.  He did not cease and I begrudgingly gave in and asked, in a huff, what he wanted.  He very seriously looked at me and said “what did the other two men do wrong, the ones who were killed with Jesus?”

Now, the sermon that day was not about the thieves that hung on Jesus’ left and on His right.  Regardless, this was a pressing question for him.  I told him we didn’t know very much about them, but we believed they were thieves.  “Hunh,” he said matter-of-factly, “it was pretty lucky for them to get crucified on that day, wasn’t it?  Jesus was with them!”

In all my years of learning and listening to the crucifixion story, I never thought of the thieves as lucky.  But, he was right.  At least for one of the thieves, this was a front row seat to learning about repentance and turning to God.  He had a teacher who was walking every step with him.  “Remember me…” he asked of Jesus. 

And He said to him, “truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

If he had been put to death on another day, he may not have understood the gift of Grace that we all share in now.  What a most comforting thought to carry with him on a harrowing day.  A thought I carry with me every day.

Next time you feel like you’re in a bad place and things aren’t going well, remember that you are not alone, and you are likely in that place for a reason.  Turn to God.  Ask.  Listen.

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