Heaven. All those tricky questions finally answered. ‘Did Solomon reject the idols of his wives?” “Did Simon the sorcerer make it?’ and ‘What’s it like to preach a nine-word sermon, convert 120,000 people, and be remembered for everything else but that?’ I have a question for the thief on the cross. But I’ll get to that soon. First, let me tell you about thieves I have known. Thieves, the most selfish of men. As expert in justifying their crimes as they are in pulling them off. Nothing is sacred! Until caught, that is. Then they become self-professed victims. Everything being someone else’s fault; even punishment.
So, it should not surprise us that while two robbers were heaping insults upon Jesus (Mk.15:29-32), one of them should turn to Jesus and say, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” After all, Jesus was just his latest ‘loser’ responsible for not getting him off. Surprisingly, his co-accused flinched at this. And having been overcome with truth, he automatically became evangelistic: “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?” (Lk.23:40). In this he was not only confessing his own guilt before God, he was acknowledging the One who was guiltless before God—someone who “has done nothing wrong” (Lk.23:41). Now to my question. When I meet him, I will ask, “When specifically, was your heart turned toward the cross of Christ?’ I think that he is going to answer, ‘At exactly the same moment that everybody turns to the cross of Christ. When I heard Jesus say, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk.23:34), I knew he was talking about me.’ The most famous eleventh-hour repentance was played out—On Three Crosses—The Saviour, the penitence, and the sinner. There needn’t have been a sinner. Then, or now!