The thief on the cross—condemned by both God and man—was just hours away from death. But before he took his last breath, something absolutely glorious occurred. The criminal, in the very process of dying, was rescued by Jesus right in front of the mocking crowd. The thief’s name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and all of heaven rejoiced. Jesus promised him a place in paradise in the presence of God.
On those three crosses at Calvary, one robber died in his sin; another man—the Son of Man—died to pay the penalty for sin; and the third, a thief like the first, was redeemed from sin. His sin debt was paid in full, and he became part of God’s family. What evidence do we have that his deathbed conversion was real?
- Change in behavior. Initially, both thieves hurled insults and blasphemies against Jesus (Matt. 27:44). In a total turnaround, the second robber later chastised the first man for his words (Luke 23:40).
- Admission of guilt. The robber publicly acknowledged that he was being justly punished for his wicked deeds (v. 41).
- Expression of faith in the Lord. The man called Jesus by name, acknowledged that He was a king with a kingdom, believed there was life after death, and asked the Savior to rescue him (v. 42).
- Jesus’ promise to the thief. The Lord told him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (v. 43).
Every one of us is just a heartbeat away from dying. Let this sobering thought propel you to examine your life. Are you part of God’s family? Are you living to please Him?
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