It is by grace that you have been saved through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) The Christian life is God’s work in which we become involved. The problem is that we can become so interested in what we are...
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?” Luke 23:39-40
Here are two criminals, one on either side of Jesus, and at first both of them hurled abuse at Jesus (Matt. 27:44; Mark 15:32). But then as one continued, a change came over the other one. The Bible calls this turning “repentance.”
For the Christian, repentance gets deeper over time. The more you learn about who God is, who you are, and what sin is, the deeper repentance becomes. But every process has a beginning, and the story of the thief shows us where this turning begins.
1. You begin to fear God.
We can reasonably assume that the thief was brought up Jewish. But he pushed the knowledge of God to the back of his mind, which is so easy for us to do. The further he got from God, the less his conscience bothered him. But now, on the brink of eternity, the fear of the Lord comes to him: “There is a great God, and soon I will stand before him.”
2. You recognize Christ as king.
The theme of Jesus being the king runs right through this story. “The soldiers also mocked him…saying, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!’”…“There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews’” (23:36, 38).
The thief says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (23:42). And it is to the person who recognizes that Jesus is king that he says, “You will be with me in paradise.”
Have you ever really feared God and recognized Jesus as King of all, including you?