The dying thief rejoiced to see
that fountain in His day;
And there have I, though vile as he,
washed all my sins away:-( William Cowper)
“But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? We are punished justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our actions. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:40- 43
The story of the penitent thief is one of the most remarkable of the incidents surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus.
To the sin and fear blinded eyes of man, Jesus was finished and his life, despite all His mighty works, a failure.
He was dying as a condemned criminal and any hopes or expectations that His followers and the populace at large had concerning Him had come to nothing.
In spite of all these contrary appearances, this thief was brought to the realization that this man was in fact everything He claimed to be.
This man during that short period of time came to a better and truer understanding of the Person and work of Christ than nearly all of the surrounding people at the time and more so than many in the visible church today.
This thief was brought from scoffing to worshipping by nothing less than the power of the Holy Spirit’s operation in these final hours of his life.
A.W Pink in his work on the Seven saying from the Cross describes the results of this mighty work in his heart and mind.
First, he expresses his belief in a future life where retribution would be meted out by a righteous and sin-avenging God.
“Dost not thou fear God?” proves this. He sharply reprimands his companion, and as much as says, How dare you have the temerity to revile this innocent man? Remember, that shortly you will have to appear before God and face a tribunal infinitely more solemn than the one which sentenced you to be crucified. God is to be feared, so be silent.
Second, as we have seen, he had a sight of his own sinfulness—“Thou art in the same condemnation. And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds” (Luke 23:40-41). He recognized that he was a transgressor. He saw that sin merited punishment, that “condemnation” was just. He owned that death was his “due.” This was something that his companion neither confessed nor recognized.
Third, he bore testimony to Christ’s sinlessness—“This man hath done nothing amiss” (Luke 23:41). And here we may mark the pains God took to guard the spotless character of His Son. Especially is this to be seen toward the end. Judas was moved to say, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” Pilate testified, “I find no fault in him.” Pilate’s wife said, “Have nothing to do with this just man.” And now that He hangs on the Cross, God opens the eyes of this robber to see the faultlessness of His beloved Son, and opens his lips so that he bears witness to His excellency.
Fourth, he not only witnessed to the sinless humanity of Christ but he also confessed His Godhead—“Lord, remember me,” he said. A marvelous word was that. The Saviour nailed to the tree, the object of Jewish hatred and the butt of a vulgar mob’ ridicule. This thief had heard the scornful challenge of the priests. “If thou be the Son of God come down from the cross” (Mat27:40), and no response had been given. But moved by faith and not by sight, he recognizes and owns the deity of the central Sufferer.
Fifth, he believed in the Saviour-hood of the Lord Jesus. He had heard Christ’s prayer for His enemies, “Father, forgive them,” and to one whose heart the Lord had opened, that short sentence became a saving sermon. His own cry, “Lord, remember me” included within its scope, “Lord, save me,” which therefore implies his faith in the Lord Jesus as Saviour. In fact he must have believed that Jesus was a Saviour for the chief of sinners or how could he have believed that Christ would “remember” such as he!
Sixth, he evidenced his faith in Christ’s kingship—“when thou comest into thy kingdom.” This too, was a wonderful word. Outward circumstances all seemed to belie His kingship. Instead of being seated on a throne, He hung upon a Cross. Instead of wearing a royal diadem, His brow was encircled with thorns. Instead of being waited upon by a retinue of servants, He was numbered with transgressors. Nevertheless, He was King—King of the Jews (Mat 2:2).
Finally he looked forward to the Second Coming of Christ—“when thou comest.” He looked away from the present to the future. He saw beyond the “sufferings” the “glory.” Over the Cross, the eye of faith detected the crown. And in this he was before the apostles, for unbelief had closed their eyes. Yes, he looked beyond the first advent in shame, to the Second Advent in power and majesty.
(Quoted from A.W. Pink “Seven sayings from the Cross”)
He then goes on to point out how this illuminates the Saviour-hood of Jesus Christ.
It is this scriptural reality we need to see at this time in the life and witness of the Church.
Any proclamation of the Christian gospel which does not set forth the sinfulness of sin and our lost and desperate state by nature, as well as the powerand willingness of Christ to save, is not true Christianity.
Indeed ,why was the Lord Jesus so named in the first place?
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”Matt 1:21
Many today would place this need for a Saviour from sin further down in the list of priorities.
They would rather offer them the answer to their “felt needs” instead of deliverance from their “un-felt” sinfulness.
Our lost and sinful state means we must deal with Christ ,first and foremost as our Saviour from sin, anything less than this fails to face our fundamental problem and most dire predicament.
This thief saw his own sin in contrast to Christ’s sinless-ness. He knew that he full well deserved the terrible consequences of his sinful life. He also saw that this righteous sufferer was the Son of God and the chosen King and Lord and therefore well able to save him.
Jesus even in this, His state of greatest weakness proved Himself a willing Saviour and how much more is He now when He reigns on the throne of heaven.
We also note the immediacy of Christ’s promise to the repentant thief,
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
Jesus Christ is truly both Saviour and King.
Let us with like repentance and faith come to the Saviour.
The Resurrection and the Life.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
In this life we are surrounded by death. Whether young or old and despite all we do to keep our minds off it, the grave often looms large before us.
We see friends stricken by disease and succumbing to old age, we see the results of accident, disaster and war hastening multitudes to their final abode.
Yet how little serious thought do we give to death and eternity.
To some it may be the end of existence. Others see some shadowy after life, but those who know and believe the Bible , death is just the beginning of either eternal good or ill, wheal or woe.
Even the Christian can in the weakness of his faith regard death as a terrible thing. It is as if we were existing in a state of perpetual suspense.
Whatever Martha believed about the future resurrection on the last day, Jesus showed her that He himself, here and now was the source and power of resurrection. He was the one who not only could raise the dead but also the one who imparted “life” in its truest and fullest sense.
He himself exemplified and demonstrated this in his own resurrection from the dead and exalted and risen bodily state.
In this precious verse He not only claimed the ability and power to do this but also abundant willingness to do this for those who would believe on Him, both now and in the future.
There is a sense of immediacy here which is inescapable.
We who are now dead in “trespasses and sins” can be even now given newness of life and triumph over sin, death and the grave. If we are not realizing this day by day, we have only ourselves to blame.
The question asked of Martha by Jesus is one He asks of us all, “Do you believe this?
If we do, let us live in this hope and trust in Him who cannot lie.
A pompous humbug!
Was how this British character actor was often cast on films both dramatic and comedic.
To anyone familiar with old British films and television this man will be a recognizable figure (I am not sure how much so in the U.S.).
Despite having an exceedingly long acting career, I wonder how many would know his real name. Even I only found it out after watching two films in which he acted in the last few days.
His name was Raymond Huntley and his filmography stretches from 1934 to 1974, as well as television appearances, most notably as “Sir Geoffrey Dillon” in “Upstairs, Downstairs”.
He would be often appear as a solicitor or doctor or some other authority figure. He often played a character with a very supercilious and haughty air. He was easily recognizable with his cultured bearing and well modulated voice.
We all have familiar figures in our lives. Sometimes we cannot put a name to the face although we can always recognize the voice.
They play a small but important part in forming the tapestry of our lives and we would be very poorer without them.
Sad to say they are often forgotten and neglected in our busy lives and we do not give them the recognition and respect they deserve and are due.
We ourselves play a role ,however small in the lives of many of the people we meet.
They may not know or remember our names yet as followers of Christ we can make the effort to leave the “sweet smelling savor” of Christ in their memories and exemplify Christianity in our daily lives.