Michel: Thief story illustrates it’s never too late to change

Published 12:05 am Saturday, April 22, 2017

If you had to name faith-filled people you know or have read about, how far down the list would you put the thief who was crucified next to Jesus?

Sometimes I forget about him, too, but for the past several days, I’ve thought of the criminal whose story made it to the Bible.

Let me first set the scene. Jesus was on the cross, crucified between two thieves.

Only days before, He had been welcomed into Jerusalem by people who spread their cloaks and palm branches before Him and hailed Him as King.

The tide later turned and when Jesus was arrested, a muddy sea of humanity demanded His death.

When Pilate asked them to identify the crime Jesus had committed, they shouted, “Crucify him!” even louder.

As Jesus hung on the cross, soldiers gambled, passersby ridiculed, rulers sneered and one of the criminals crucified beside Him hurled insults.

That’s when the other criminal, the thief on the other side of Jesus, spoke up and his comments are recorded in the 23rd chapter of Luke.

“Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

On his darkest day, in the worst condition of his life and shortly before he was to open his eyes in eternity, the thief turned to Jesus. I wonder what caused his change of heart, for earlier he, too, had insulted Jesus.

“Nevertheless, he saw beyond his present circumstance to the kingdom of God, and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

It’s never too late to turn to Jesus.

Ronny Michel may be reached at rmichel@rtconline.com.