In his insightful book Seven Words, W. R. Matthews calls the dying thief “the first captive of the cross.” A slave to crime, that man found freedom in the final hours of his life. He admitted that God was right to punish his sin and asked to be remembered in Christ’s kingdom. In simple faith he reached out to Jesus (Luke 23:40-42).
Right there from the cross, Jesus gave him, in one decisive moment, more than what he asked for: forgiveness for his lawless deeds, companionship in his dying hour, and the assurance of s share in God’s Paradise – that very day!
What hope for all who feel they’ve been too long to start over! What hope for the grieving parent who agonizes over a child who is living a rebellious life and faces an untimely death from the devastating effects of drugs or immorality! If there comes a moment of conviction of sin, which is the Holy Spirit’s work (John 16:8), and a plea in faith to the Lord Jesus for mercy – no matter what the circumstances – He will have but one response: “You will be with Me in Paradise.”
Repentance doesn’t erase wasted years nor stay death’s hand, but it always swings wide the door to Paradise. – Dennis J. De Haan
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
With welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come! – Elliot
No one is too bad to be forgiven.
- August 13, 1993, Our Daily Bread