At the Holy friday service last year I was listening to the Gospel reading which mentions the Penitent thief and suddenly felt overwhelmed. On the first instance when the Penitent thief is mentioned you surely think "This is a man that has spent his life stealing, murdering and being generally sinful and unpleasant" then suddenly he turns to those denying Christ and insulting him and out of the blue he says to him ?Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.?
Following this, the thief, having come to this revelation of Christ as the Lord turns to the suffering Christ and asks him ?Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.? to which he is told ?Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.? And so, after a life of sin, this criminal has found paradise. Until under a week ago I never really read this passage for the pearl it really is.
Now I have read this passage many times in my life, but hearing it at the service I suddenly thought... This man has just accepted Christ, and repented in a single act. He has spent his life in sin, and yet in this one moment he has become a man of God. he has professed Christ to be God "?Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation" and accepted that he is recieving the wages of sin "we receive the due reward of our deeds"
This really struck home with me, being someone that has acted unsavory at times in my past, but now I wonder "how can people be so blind." Even this thief sees right and wrong, he knows the guilty from the innocent, and openly accepts his judgement. He defended a man he never knew as he could not bear to see an innocent suffer the same judgement as a thief. He also opened his heart to salvation, asking to be remembered for what he has become through this revelation in Christ. This honesty and love of justice displayed in his final hours is indeed inspirational and makes me wonder, why can't others be the same?
Christ accepted the cross to trample Satan and death under his feet. Surely man can see Christ as the Thief did.