One of the thieves from the cross said, “I deserve to be punished
because of my sins . . . [even so,] Jesus, remember me when you
enter your kingdom.” Jesus said, “This day, you will be with me in
paradise.” • Luke 23:39-43
The man we call the good thief was not so good while he was still a thief and a murderer. Only for the last three hours of his life did he “turn out good.” He finally admitted how sinful he was; he confessed his bad behavior to the Lord of his life . . . and then he allowed Jesus’ compassion to turn his life around. Sorrow for sins is the surest way to prepare for the coming of Christ. We will experience God’s love only when we are willing to admit Calvary into our Christmas—never thinking that Jesus cannot forgive us or love us. And never, never presuming that we are so good that we have no need of God’s pardon or peace.
THE GOOD THIEF SPEAKS TO YOU
“Be of good heart, all you who grieve over your past sins. I had as bad a record as any convict ever had. Yet look how mercifully Jesus treated me. It’s never too late to ask him for citizenship in his place of peace. I beg all the parents and friends of people who have gone wrong—I beg you this: don’t give up on the people you pray for. My parents never gave up on me. Keep praying. As long as those who have gone wrong are alive (even if it’s the last afternoon of their life), Christmas has a chance.”
Jesus, help me to be honest with myself. I am a sinner. I do wrong sometimes. I need your pardon. Forgive me. Make me whole. Then I shall be able to “live out loud” and I will no longer harbor any sinful secrets. And I will forever praise your Christmas love that sometimes comes to me from Calvary. Amen.