Pastor’s Message With: Rev. Dr. Herb Rhedrick
Do you remember the worst day of your life? Could it have also been your best day? This was the case of the infamous thief on the cross. His story is found in Luke 23:32-43:
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals–one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
I know what you are thinking right about now, what can I learn about Easter from a thief? Well, let me ask you something, have you ever hung out with Jesus for 6 hours on a cross? That’s what I thought. So, I believe we can all learn a lot from the thief.
The thief was probably an accompanist of Barabbas. They had spent the better part of their lives rob-bing and possibly killing people for their personal gains. However, they were arrested and convicted of insurrection around the same time Jesus was arrested and convicted of treason. The unfortunate fate for the thief was, while his partner Barabbas was re-leased, he was sentenced to death by crucifixion.
It appears this would be the worst day of his life. He knows he is being justly crucified, deserving of his punishment. He has sinned against God and his fellow man and knows there is no chance of being released from his fate.
Now, as he and his friend are hanging on a cross awaiting death, he has the encounter of a lifetime. He is being crucified with Jesus. Early on during their time on the cross, he probably participated in the verbal abuses and attacks on Jesus. But, he noticed something uniquely different about Jesus. While others were ridiculing Him, Jesus was praying for them and asking for forgiveness for them. The thief knew this was a highly unusual response for men in their condition. He also noticed that Jesus was even concerned about the well-being of His mother and from the cross arranged for her care.
He further noticed that although Jesus had been brutally abused, He was still compassionate enough to have a conversation with the thief. I am quite certain, these facts did not go unnoticed, for even one of the Roman guards declared that Jesus was the Son of God.
So, on what was his worst day, the thief made an appeal to Jesus to remember him and Jesus graciously said He would. Now, here is the lesson for us, even in our worst moments it is important to spend some quality time talking with Jesus. We must seek His forgiveness and direction. When we do this then even our worst day can become our best day.
Rev. Dr. Herb Rhedrick is Senior Pastor at First Missionary Baptist Church, 59 Chestnut St. SW, Concord, NC 28025. • Worship Campus: 1500 Goldrush Dr. SW, Concord, NC 28025.He can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit on line at: www.fmbc-concord.org, or like us on Facebook. Call 704.786.6017 for further information.