I’m hoping you included a thief in your Easter/Resurrection Day celebrations this year. Not to have been seated at your table, necessarily, but certainly to have infiltrated your thinking and increased your gratitude.

If your mind didn’t go there, that’s okay. The gift of the thief is still with us.

In the blog What Is Eternal Life? we looked into the verse John 17:3 and the simple truth of how mortals separated from God can receive His breath of spiritual life—one of fullness and joyful unity with Him which goes beyond this earthly existence.

It is Jesus who prayed in John 17:3:

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ who You have sent.”

As God’s Son, Jesus was sent to give His life as a ransom for the spiritually perishing. He knew from the beginning He would suffer and die on a cross in that process.

Which brings us back to the thief. While Jesus was being crucified, our robber was on a cross also, along with another. The thieves had been caught in their sin and, under Roman rule, condemned to die.

Those being crucified joined the spectators and religious leaders who were hurling insults at Christ (Matthew 27:44; Mark 15:32). As if the sins of thievery weren’t enough, they blasphemed God while He was in the very act of redeeming humanity.

But a change occurred.

The thieves had a spiritual parting of the ways.

One kept insulting Jesus and the other began acknowledging his guilt and just condemnation. Perhaps he recalled hearing specifics of Jesus’ miracles and love for people, including sinners. His heart may have constricted when Christ prayed for the forgiveness of those who were crucifying Him (Luke 23:34).

Clearly, he was given understanding of the greater consequences of sin (being separated from God and all His goodness) and that Jesus and Almighty God are one and the same. This thief changed his alliance, choosing to place his trust in Christ. When he said, “Jesus, remember me when You enter Your kingdom” he was, in effect, asking for that new birth into God’s spiritual family that Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about (see Nick’ At Night).

Without hesitation, Jesus answered: “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

* * *

 I am, indeed, thankful for the thief.

He was transformed, on the spot, into an adopted son of God and joint heir with Jesus Christ (John 1:12; I Peter 1:3-5).

His dying body would soon experience its last breath and begin the decaying process. He had no time to perform good works, join a church, or be baptized. But this man had been given the gift of eternal life—inseparable from God’s person and character. His sin rap sheet was immediately and eternally canceled and replaced with Jesus’ rightful standing before God. He entered into an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ and would forever know inexpressible joy (Romans 8:1; Jude 1:24).

How wonderful to see the simplicity and instantaneousness of God’s gift of eternal life!

* * *

 Some things to consider:

All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). As a consequence, we cannot presently and eternally be united with God without His intervention. Jesus was the necessary intervention. He alone lived a perfect life before God and, because of this, was an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. But like cashing a check, it is incumbent upon us to act on God’s gift of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, as did the thief-turned-believer.

The men crucified with Jesus each had a choice as to how they would respond to Him. We do, too. There are two spiritual paths from which we can choose to enter eternity: we can know the joy of unity with God through Jesus Christ without end, or suffer unending separation from God and Jesus Christ.

The team at Encouragement That Lasts hasn’t forgotten its purpose. We recognize true and lasting encouragement is not made up of fluff or feel good stuff. In fact, our commitment to truth-filled encouragement motivates us to place the truths of God before you in the hope of them settling into your heart and life, nourishing the soul—the eternal and most important part of you.

If you personally know Jesus Christ, it is our prayer your love and devotion to Him will deepen and that you will share with others the wonders of eternal life found in Him. And if you don’t know Jesus in this way? We love you enough to pray you won’t be comfortable camping there, because we want everyone to know the joy of coming into what cannot be earned, transferred, or even stolen:

Eternal life in Christ.

It’s only a prayer away.

 

 

[And of course, the grave could not hold Jesus! You may enjoy reading The Question (Which Changes Everything)]

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

3 Comments

  • Brad says:

    Yay God!
    Freedom Day has a unique look in every life that experiences it. In todays blog it was a thief on a cross, another person’s might be a car wreck between Oraibi and Hardrock, and another might be on a living room floor. But Jesus, because of His sacrifice, paid the price for Freedom Days

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