Day Six: Reckless Love
It was Friday. A day that, for the disciples, could have been described with a host of different adjectives… except for good. The day was comprised of unjust trials, horrific floggings, and a shameful parade to Calvary in which Jesus was made to carry His own cross. In addition to betrayal and physical abuse, Jesus was mocked and ridiculed publicly. After they gambled for His clothing, Roman soldiers nailed Him to a cross and raised Him up between two criminals.
As the three men hung there, one criminal joined the voices mocking Jesus. The other, in the brief moments before his death, took ownership of his sin and appealed to Jesus’ lordship. A guilty, dying thief recognized he was in the presence of forgiveness. As he received justice for his crimes, he appealed to mercy… Remember me.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your wrongdoing? Have you ever felt paralyzed with guilt? Then you can empathize with the thief. In the midst of His own pain, Jesus comforted the repentant man: You will be with me… Jesus doesn’t shame or demand penance. He doesn’t require a class or a special prayer. He doesn’t weigh good deeds against evil ones. In response to repentance, Jesus extends complete forgiveness with a single word. Aren’t we all that thief on the cross? Don’t we all deserve punishment? We certainly do. But Jesus offers both mercy and grace: scandalous, unmerited, favor.
Is there a part of your story that you feel is unforgivable? How does Jesus’ forgiveness of the thief change that belief?