Does it bother you that in his last act of ministry before his death, Jesus forgave the thief dangling on the cross next to him? (Luke 23:42) Does it amaze you? Disturb you? Delight you? After all, Jesus knew the thief had converted out of plain fear. He would never study the Bible, never attend the synagogue, or never make amends for those he had wronged. All he had to offer was a plea for help. And that’s all it took. Actually, that’s all it takes for any of us to come into a relationship with Christ. Jesus doesn’t make it difficult, we do. And he isn’t impressed by our self-improvement efforts on the way to following him.
He simply said, “Jesus remember me” and Jesus promised “Today you will be with me in
paradise.” This was another shocking reminder that grace does not depend on what we have done for God, but rather what God has done for us. This kind of grace can rub some people the wrong way. Have you ever been miffed or puzzled that God has bestowed his extravagant grace upon others? Suppose some of these guys met you at heaven’s “door”: Charles Manson; Jesse James; Jeffrey Dahmer; Adolf Hitler; Bernie Madoff. Would you still want in? Would you be upset with God or pleased that these people, however late and after a horrible life, bowed their knee to the King?
If you asked most people what they think they must do to get to heaven, most would say “Be good.” (Whatever that is) Jesus’ stories contradict that answer. Just ask the Apostle Paul. Legalist. Persecutor. Murderer. All anyone has to do is cry HELP! God has room for people like that. Perhaps we need to drop our measuring sticks and be more like that. Grace is not fair. It is not based upon “fairness.” Grace sometimes creates in us a temporary annoyance, but we can get over that when we truly begin to develop a heart like God. And He’s working in us to do just that. As the Beatles sang, “Help! I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody. Help! I really need someone.” We need Jesus more than we know, even after we get started with Him.
Think About It.