the Dying Thief
trust God today and receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life with
The young man leaned
over the bed, his strong hands surrounding the old man’s frail ones.
“Do you believe Jesus died for you, Grandpa? Do you want to put
your trust in Him?” The old man nodded his head and gave up his
lifelong antagonism toward his Creator. He whispered, “Yes, I do
want Jesus to be my Savior.” His head fell back on the pillow and
a few hours later he slipped into the presence of the Lord. Once again,
God’s mercy pursued a man right to death’s door. With simple
faith, that old man was instantly snatched from possible judgment and
shortly thereafter entered into eternal life.
The thief hung contorted and writhing for breath on a Roman cross. Anger
and hatred raged in his bursting heart. Until he realized whom the man
was hanging beside him. Was it something Jesus said or the sheer presence
of God that convinced him? The thief quieted down, had a complete change
of heart, and offered an amazing prayer to the one dying beside him.
Jesus gave the thief his simple request—and more! “Today you
will be with me in Paradise.” There was no time for probation or
restitution for this man, but salvation came immediately. Right then Jesus
was paying for his sins. That day Jesus would walk with him in Paradise!
Scripture makes it clear that Jesus welcomes you and me into his family
the moment we believe. The transfer is swift and sure—whether we
live on earth another fifty years or enter heaven within a few thousand
Augustine once observed, “There is one case of death-bed repentance
recorded, that of the penitent thief, that none should despair; and only
one that none should presume.”
Why put off trusting Jesus for a day longer? Now is the day of salvation!
(2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
FURTHER STUDY: The thief on the cross was dying a horrible death, crucifixion,
the primary method of capital punishment among the Persians, Seleucids,
Jews, Carthaginians, and Romans from about the 6th century BC to the 4th
century AD. The
condemned man was usually whipped and forced to drag the crossbeam to
where the upright was standing. His hands were tied or nailed to the crossbeam,
which was attached to the upright 9–12 ft (2.5–3.5 m) above
the ground, and his feet bound or nailed to the upright. Death was by
heart failure or asphyxiation. Political or religious agitators and those
without civil rights were crucified. Its overwhelming association today
is with Jesus. Crucifixion was abolished by Constantine I in AD 337 after
his conversion to Christianity. See also stigmata.
from painting by Hubert and/or Jan van Eyck, c. 1420
excerpt is from the Living Faith™ Bible (Tyndale House Publishers)
Copyright © 2003, 2000 David and Renée Sanford
"There was no time for probation or restitution
for this man, but salvation came immediately. Right then Jesus was paying
for his sins. That day Jesus would walk with him in Paradise!"