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No matter how dark the day, at the end of it can come salvation from Christ

 

By Rev Gareth Burke

Harold Wilson is famously reported as having said that "a week is a long time in politics" True as this statement is, the reality is that in any of our lives a day can actually turn out to be a long time.

Much can happen in any one day. Take the day when Jesus died on the cross at Calvary. Either side of Jesus two other men, criminals, were also being crucified. One of them, to whom we normally refer as the dying thief, had a quite remarkable day, even though it was the last day of his life upon earth.

In the morning, when he was nailed to the cross, he was busy with his partner in crime mocking Jesus and laughing at him. This man, the dying thief, had engaged in some pretty serious crimes and was being punished by the Roman authorities not just for theft and petty crime but probably for insurrection against the ruling Roman authority.

When we first come across him, he presents as a hardened sinner who has no time for God. However, he changes. It seems fairly clear that he changes as he observes Jesus dying alongside him. He is undoubtedly moved by Jesus' incredible words: "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing" (Luke 23 :34 ). He is also impressed by the perfection that he sees in Jesus. He declares to his friend that as far as Jesus is concerned, "This man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:41).

It seems evident to us that the Holy Spirit is working in his life, enabling him to see his sin and drawing him to Jesus.

Sometime before noon he prays: "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke23:42). In some ways it isn't the clearest of prayers. He's a bit confused, but Jesus knows his heart and hears his prayer. Jesus reassures him as someone who is now trusting in him for salvation that: "Today, you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23 :43).

Later that day the dying thief dies. He goes to paradise - to heaven - to experience the joy and beauty that awaits all who have faith in Christ.

Well, wasn't that some day! In the morning he was "without Christ". By noon he was "in Christ". In the evening he was "with Christ".

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