Good Friday March 25
The Thief on the Cross - Luke 23:43 (NIV)
"…Today you will be with me in paradise.”
People respond to the sufferings they endure in life in different ways.
Some blame, even curse God for their circumstances much like the unrepentant thief. Others, like the repentant criminal, acknowledge that they are sinners deserving of their fate and look to Jesus for forgiveness. We see this in the way the repentant thief acknowledged to his partner in crime, “We deserve what we are getting.” Those who would be saved know they are sinners in need of God’s grace.
When Jesus entered my life so many years ago I remember the inner struggle I went through when Billy Graham issued the invitation to come and receive Jesus as my Savior. Was I a sinner? Did I really need to invite Him into my life? Wasn’t I good enough already? Maybe underlying even these questions were, “Don't I deserve to be accepted by God?”
Praise be to God, the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart began to convict me that I was not good enough on my own. I needed Jesus to come into my heart and cleanse me from all my unrighteousness. I remember getting out of my seat in the stadium when Billy Graham issued the invitation to receive Jesus into my life. It was the beginning of a great adventure culminating one day when I, too, like the thief on the cross, will be in paradise in the presence of God.
Not many years ago, I met a man who attended the same Billy Graham meeting. Like me, he too struggled with his pride. But unfortunately, he decided not to repent and receive Jesus as his Savior. To this day, he still seems unwilling to acknowledge his need. Hopefully, he will eventually realize this and look to Jesus for salvation.
The repentant thief received Jesus as his Savior at the most critical moment of life, just as he was about to die. The other criminal let his opportunity slip by. There would be no other chance. It is a reminder that the invitation to receive the grace of God offered in Jesus is now, not sometime later when we have had time to think about it or when we are too set in our ways to want to change.
God our Father,
Enable us through Your Holy Spirit to always be mindful to listen to You when You speak to our hearts and to respond to Your call in our lives in obedience to Your Word.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Rev. Dr. Don Johnson - Executive Director