Saturday in the Thirty-Second Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 27:38, 44; Mark 15:27, 32b; Luke 23:32, 39-43; John 19:18

No One Gets Left Behind – No One

I am told that the Marines have a saying just like this.  How very much like Jesus, for today we take up the thief on the cross who put his faith in Jesus just hours before his final breath.  And what amazes me about this entire event is that Jesus is “on his last leg.”  He has been forsaken, beaten, whipped, mocked, scourged, crucified, and now mocked again while hanging from the cross: Man’s inhumanity to man on full display.  How wretched must he have felt, how betrayed, how despised such that even in terrible pain and dying people laugh at and mock and curse him.  The purpose of the cross was not just to inflict inconceivable pain, but to publicly humiliate and completely strip one of any and all human dignity.  Even birds of prey would come and pick the flesh while one was dying.

And yet even in this miserable condition, our Lord has time for one more soul.  Now understand that Matthew and Mark tell us that the thieves mocked Jesus the same as the crowd.  So we must assume that this man was doing the same.  But something happens to him in the interval of time that had passed while on the cross.  I wonder if it was hearing Jesus pray, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” that not only touched but broke his heart.  Here he is dying, and deservedly so, as he later confesses, feeling nothing but hate in his heart.  But then he hears Jesus say this!  He knew then that he was in the presence of a different kind of man.  And upon hearing the other thief attack Jesus for doing nothing for them, crying, “Save yourself, and us,” he rebukes him.

Listen to what the repentant thief answers, “Do you not fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.”  You see, the one coming to saving faith in Christ does not justify himself before God and others; he owns that he is a wretched sinner who deserves whatever his lot, and undeserving of anything but death and hell.  Until one comes to this personal recognition, one cannot be saved, for salvation is predicated upon repentance, which the thief expresses here, and faith, which he expresses moments later when he says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

And Jesus answers, “This day you will be with me in Paradise.”  It didn’t matter how much Jesus was hurting at that moment; a soul needed saving, and our Lord will leave no one behind.  He is semper fidelis.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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