Luke 23:41-43 – "For we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (ESV)
Those of us who have suffered a serious illness, disaster, accident, or loss (or have a loved one who has suffered), know how unexpectedly our world can shrink and change overnight.
During springtime, we reflect upon the enormity of our Saviour's actions on the cross, and the subsequent gift to us of eternal life, new life.
I have thought about how the criminal who hung next to Him was an extraordinary person. When he was in extreme pain, he did not seek to focus inwards, but rather unlike me, he was able — one can only assume as a gift of faith — to look beyond his situation and see the bigger picture.
Right next to him could have hung anybody, but He was the Saviour of the world, strung out on a cross. The thief was able to recognize it, unlike his partner in crime. Perhaps he had seen and heard Him previously?
Anyway, despite his forlorn situation, this man stepped outside of his immediate pain and hopeless circumstances. This was no mean feat when gasping for each breath, in crucifixion.
Maybe at the very end of life, he could come to terms with the finality of his situation? Anyhow, praise God for this man's faith, to be able to reach out to Jesus, in those last moments of life, to be a witness to all who follow. He was accepted and forgiven rather than rebuked and condemned. There was hope and expectancy, where moments before, there had been only struggle.
I guess, this was a comfort to Jesus, in the very last moments of his time incarnate, to deliver someone from the very fingers of the evil one?
He, too, was focused on the bigger picture. He still is.
When disaster hits, in whom or in what are we putting our faith? Are we able to look beyond our situation and see the bigger picture?
Prayer: Lord, nothing is a surprise to You, because You see everything. Please be with all those in turmoil today, facing up to disaster, war, or death, and grant them the ability to perceive You with them to offer hope and a future. In Jesus' name. Amen.