The day Jesus died was a day in which the creation crucified the Creator. Yet, by the irony of divine wisdom, God used this gruesome means of taking life to give life! Not only did Jesus hang on that center cross, but so did the hope of all humanity. This moment in time, and the transaction that took place on that day, was without question the defining moment in history.
But if that be the case, why is the record of Jesus’ death cluttered with peripheral information about the death of an irrelevant thief who also died that day? Surely, there’s a bigger story here in the death of Jesus, than to waste ink on the deserved death of a thief.
Well, may I suggest that the death of the thief is not an irrelevant, peripheral event, but an important part of a bigger story? You see, the cross of Jesus proclaims the depth of God’s love in that he was willing to give his only Son (John 3:16). But alongside that proclamation is the proclamation from the cross upon which the thief died. This cross proclaimed the scope of God’s love.
The message from the thief’s cross speaks to all of us who struggle with guilt for wasting so much of our lives in sin. It speaks to those of us who have waited much too long to surrender to Jesus. It speaks to all of us who have nothing left to offer God but an apology. The thief’s cross announces that God is a God of grace!
I hope we can find peace in that truth. Without the cross of Jesus there would be no hope. But without the thief’s cross, maybe we would doubt if the redemption Jesus secured could reach a sinner like me!
When the thief on the cross had nothing left to offer God but an apology, Jesus promised him Paradise! Thank God for the the redemption procured on the cross of Christ, and also for the hope that is illustrated by the thief’s cross.