Believing at the Last Hour
But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? Luke 23:40
suggested further reading: Ephesians 2:1–10
In the thief on the cross, a most wicked man, a striking mirror of the unexpected and incredible grace of God is held out to us. The mirror shows how this man who is near death is suddenly changed into a new man and drawn from hell itself to heaven. It also shows how, having obtained in a moment the forgiveness of all the sins in which he has been plunged through his whole life, this man is admitted to heaven before the apostles and first-fruits of the new church.
This is a remarkable example of how the grace of God shines in the conversion of a man. For it is not by the natural movement of the flesh that this man lays aside his fierce cruelty and proud contempt of God and immediately repents. Rather, he is subdued by the hand of God, for all of Scripture shows that repentance is God’s work.
This grace is much more excellent and goes far beyond the expectation of all. For who would ever have thought that this robber in the very throes of death would become not only a devout worshiper of God but also a distinguished teacher of faith and piety to the whole world, so that we, too, might receive from his mouth the rule of a true and proper confession?
The first proof the thief gives of his repentance is that he severely reproves and restrains the wicked forwardness of his companion, the other thief on the cross. He then adds a second proof by humbling himself in openly acknowledging his crimes and ascribing to Christ the praise due to his righteousness. Third, he displays astonishing faith by committing himself and his salvation to the protection of Christ, whom he sees hanging on the cross and near death.
for meditation: This thief’s acquaintances would never have believed he would become such a gospel preacher. But think how much gospel truth has been impressed upon hearts by this man’s testimony preserved in Scripture. When the grace of God grips us, there is no telling what unexpected and miraculous things the Lord will do through us. Pray that you will be kept in the grip of that grace today, being used by God for those whose paths you providentially cross.