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.”
Two condemned men are watching Jesus. These two are also nailed to crosses. Both have joined in with the crowd in their mocking of Christ. Both have heard Jesus pray and offer forgiveness to those who mock. To those who drove the nails. To those who gamble for his robe. One hears him forgive and continues to mock him - perhaps he saw forgiveness as a sign of weakness? Yet the other responds differently and rebukes the other thief. Two thieves. Two men dying. Two different reactions.
What follows is truly amazing. Nailed to a cross a thief cries out for the forgiveness that Jesus offered. The mocker has been transformed by Christ's words of forgiveness and now defends him to the other thief. And all the while Jesus is listening. Not only to what the man says but to the faith that comes from his heart. Then, in an amazing mix of boldness and desperation, the thief cries out to Jesus. And, oh my, Jesus' response to him is so unexpected. So amazing. So divine. As he is dying he offers hope to everyone.
I am in awe of your forgiveness Lord. Help me to forgive as I am forgiven.
... this devotion is on the last words of Christ.