The gospel of Luke (23:33–43) records an exchange between Jesus and two thieves hanging on crosses on either side of him. One thief criticized Jesus while the other defended and sought him. Jesus’ defender, often called “the thief on the cross” found salvation that day; the other did not.

These men were criminals, evil-doers. The authorities punished them justly for their sins. In a few moments, God was going to punish them justly in eternity. These thieves deserved God’s justice for their sins like all of us deserve – whether criminals or not. Truth is, we are all one step away from our deathbeds not knowing when that step will come.

Yet, unlike these two criminals, we will probably not get a few moments on our deathbed to consider whether or not we desire eternal life with Jesus. Christians often appeal to the thief on cross who sought Jesus when an unbelieving loved one who lived like hell dies. They are hopeful that their loved one might have had a deathbed confession. Yet, they forget about the mocking thief whose tone more closely resembles their loved one’s.

Which thief are you? Are you the thief who will die mocking and denying Jesus or the one who seeks Jesus and his Kingdom?

Grace and peace,

Mark

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