Does it ever feel tempting to live the life your human, sinful side wants to live – saving repentance for the last few moments of your life? Does it ever feel “unfair” that God will forgive someone who lives a very sinful life – as long as they get their repentance in “under the wire?” And is this even true?
The Lesson of the Thief on the Cross
Turning to the physical death of Jesus to develop our answer, we find one of the most touching, poignant parts of the New Testament; Jesus, enduring his own physical agony on the cross, forgives the thief hanging next to him.
Here is the moving scene, found in Luke 23:39-43:
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’
But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’
Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”
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SOURCE: Crosswalk, Deirdre Reilly