And he said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”
With just a few words the foundation of the world, the belief system of so many, was thrown broken and ruined to the ground. Who is this man that hangs up on the cross? Who is He to stay to that thief that he will be with him this very day in paradise? And, who is this thief, to be declared worthy of paradise by this man named Jesus at the very moment he hangs in judgment; it is not “right”, not what had been taught. How can this man who calls Himself the King of the Jews, in just one single moment, in one single phrase, in an instant re-write the law of eternal crime and punishment?
It was one of the single most important moments in all of eternity. Played out on that cloudy day, set on a notorious hill, up on a lonely cross, that Christ spoke into the darkness of the world and offered grace, a Grace that no one had seen before, perfect Grace. It was a grace that was offered in the midst of suffering. The price was still being paid at that moment by Christ for the words that he had just uttered seconds ago. That a man, a convicted felon, who deserved nothing less then death, would in a moment find perfect peace at the word of a suffering Jesus.
The potency of that short phrase should never leave us. We should never allow even a day to pass without considering what was spoken that day. Our King, experiencing what we should receive, offered to us what He deserved, unconditional grace. To meet our Lord we must come to the reality of the heart of Him that offered grace in the midst of suffering. There was nothing on that day that the thief could have offered to Him. No price, nor sacrifice could amount to any value to our Lord who hung on that cross, save the desperate asking of a man who has come to the reality of his situation and the one that was playing out right next to him. We must learn to put our wallet away and stop trying to pay for what has already been freely given. We must come to the point where our heart is not far from the desperate cry of wanting for our Lords loving Grace.