#DailyDevotion Join The Thief On The Cross In Baptism
Luke 2333When they came to the place called Skull, they crucified Him there with the criminals, one at His right and the other at His left. 34Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they are doing.” They divided His clothes among them by throwing lots for them. 35The people stood there watching. The rulers were sneering, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he’s the Christ, God’s chosen One.” 36The soldiers also made fun of Him by going up to Him and offering Him sour wine. 37“If you’re the King of the Jews,” they said, “save yourself.” 38There was a notice placed above Him: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39One of the crucified criminals was mocking Him, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other warned him, “Aren’t you afraid of God?” he asked him. “You’re condemned just as He is. 410ur punishment is just. We’re getting what we deserve for what we’ve done. But this One has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” 43“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to him, “today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
This passage begins and ends in forgiveness. There being crucified, Jesus speaks the words, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they are doing.” Stephen, a mere disciple would not too far in time from this as he was being stoned to death said, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” So Jesus, the true Son of God and Stephen a true disciple of Jesus give us a pattern of a sound faith to follow. Indeed it is Jesus’ word of forgiveness which enables us to do the same. His forgiveness won for us, who did not deserve, it is not only a pattern of us to follow when people sin against us and we don’t believe they deserve to be forgiven but it is the very power itself to forgive those who do not deserve to be forgiven.
We can look as what they did to our Lord as he spoke these words to the Father. They crucified him, nailing his hands and feet into the cross. They mocked him. They mocked him doubting who he truly was and making a joke of his. They had spit upon him. They did not let up. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ asked his Father in heaven to forgive them. Lest we think this is too hard a thing to do, we can look at his servant Stephen and know with the power of the Holy Spirit we too can ask the Father to not hold peoples sins against them when they have sinned against us.
We should just take a quick note that the things they mock Jesus with are all true. Jesus is the Christ, God’s chosen one. He is that servant of the Lord spoken of in Isaiah 53. Jesus is the Christ, and by his crucifixion he was saving those crucifying him and the thieves crucified with him. Jesus is the KING OF THE JEWS, not only by being a descendant of David, he is the king they rejected when they chose Saul to be their king like the rest of the nations surrounding them.
Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross are fitting end to the Church year as we focus on the Last Day and the day of our redemption when we are raised from the dead. “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” His last minute repentance and reception by Jesus teaches us it is never too late to repent, i.e. be sorrowful over our sins and to trust in Jesus. It is written, “Today if you hear my voice don’t harden your hearts like you did in the wilderness.” It is written, “Today is the day of salvation.” For the thief that Today was the day of his crucifixion. You however don’t put off that day. On the day you hear the good news of Jesus Christ, when you have been confronted by your sins and hear the good news Jesus died for them and forgives you freely, be repentant of your sins and believe the good news. If you have not been baptized before seek baptism quickly so you may be joined to your Lord in that manner which he commanded. If you have been baptized before then rejoice in it believing the words of St. Paul that in your baptism you have been joined with Jesus on the cross just like the thief on the cross. Today you will be with Jesus in paradise and Jesus will be in your heart.
Merciful God and Almighty Father, you sent your son Jesus Christ into the world so he may win for us the forgiveness of sins and we may enter Paradise with him. Grant us such faith in our baptisms so we may realize this. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.