The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"The Saint On the Cross"
The desired norm of the Christian life involves trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as a young person, and then walking faithfully with Him for many years. Thankfully, this does not preclude the possibility of salvation late in life, nor of God's mighty working to glorify His Son in those who have less time rather than more. For confirmation, consider the Biblical account of a man commonly referred to as "the thief on the cross," but who actually left this world as "the saint on the cross."
He had literally minutes to live, having wasted his life to the degree of acknowledging his rightful place on a cursed tree of shame, agony, and death. He should have had no expectation of an afterlife that involved anything less than Divine wrath and rejection. If remembered upon the earth, his legacy would be ignominy. And yet...
"One of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If thou be Christ, save Thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:39-43).
This man, this thief transformed by grace into a saint, now enjoys citizenship in Heaven. He will eternally dwell there in the presence of the living God, the realm of "fullness of joy" and "pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11). Moreover, for twenty centuries, his story has served as a redeeming message that has led countless souls to faith in the Lord Jesus. The thief - the saint - serves as an evangelist of holy Scripture. A wasted life characterized the preponderance of his earthly sojourn. This did not hinder God's divine mercy in Christ from redeeming one who will forevermore sing "Amazing Grace" with a heart of wonder and strains of thrilled and loving gratitude. Indeed, will anyone throughout eternity love the Lord Jesus more than the thief who at the very end of a misspent life became a saint, an evangelist, and a son of the living God?
"There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And He said unto him, thou hast rightly judged" (Luke 7:41-43).
Actually, even the believer who met the Lord as a child, and then lived a long, faithful, and fruitful life, must sing of God's grace with no less wonder, gratitude, and love. Every godly person will attest to their Heavenly Father's longsuffering patience, and to times when faithful feet wandered or even determinedly strode off the narrow path of righteousness onto avenues of waywardness. The longtime Christian must know his or her Father's grace as one of His children, something the former thief never knew. He did not have enough time to experience such lonsuffering patience in our Heavenly Father. Those who have walked with the Lord for many years do know such mercy. They will sing also with a heart filled with wonder regarding God's amazing grace.
Two preachers with whom I am familiar retired several years ago. Both were asked how they wanted to be remembered. One replied, "As a man beyond reproach, and faithful to his Lord." The other responded differently. "Remember me as a man who had a patient, longsuffering, and faithful Savior, whose grace continues to amaze me to this moment." I think the latter brother in Christ more characterizes what we will all feel in eternity to come. Moreover, we will not concern ourselves with being remembered, but rather with our Lord being glorified, and with all hearts directed toward Him. Certainly, the thief - the saint - of the cross will raise his voice amid the chorus of those who join millions upon millions in the glad exultation of the Christ who saved him at the last hour, to bless him forevermore…
"And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.
Weekly Memory Verse
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.