The thief who denied hell and stole Heaven has an amazing place in history.
The thief is the one person who saw the truth of Jesus’ message. Those around him were grieving, shocked, taunting, or disinterested in the crucifixion, but the thief stole the show. He saw his opportunity, to rob hell of his soul and to repent of his past heinous crimes. For this he would be remembered for all time.
The robber understood he deserved to die.
The thief in his understanding knew that he deserved his crucifixion. His pain and subsequent death were of his own doing. He had deprived many of precious things through the manor of his trade as a robber. He no doubt robbed wives of husbands, children of their fathers and vice versa. Now his crimes were to rob him of his life. But his salvation hung beside him.
“Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
As the robber gazed on the man beside him the scales from his eyes fell. He did not see another criminal, but the Son of God. His soul leapt for joy but the devil cringed in the dark periphery surrounding the revelation, watching as the first sinner gained entry into Heaven. “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” (Luke 23:40)
Jesus said “I tell you the truth, today you shall be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)
How comforting for Jesus in his agony to be recognised for who He really was. The thief, a man of the world, who did not know Jesus from His ministry, bowed down before his Saviour King. When Jesus died Heaven rejoiced and the sinner danced, he had stolen his greatest prize at the last moment – his redemption.
The memory of the thief.
Today let us remember the lesson of this man who denied hell and stole Heaven, as we hang on our own cross of life. Let us see what the thief saw – God’s Grace.