The thief who denied hell and stole Heaven has an amazing place in history.
The thief is the one person who saw the truth of Jesus’ message. Those around him were grieving, shocked, taunting, or disinterested in the crucifixion, but the thief stole the show. He saw his opportunity, to rob hell of his soul and to repent of his past heinous crimes. For this he would be remembered for all time.
The thief in his understanding knew that he deserved his crucifixion. His pain and subsequent death were of his own doing. He had deprived many of precious things through the manor of his trade as a robber. He no doubt robbed wives of husbands, children of their fathers and vice versa. Now his crimes were to rob him of his life. But his salvation hung beside him.
“Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
As the robber gazed on the man beside him the scales from his eyes fell. He did not see another criminal, but the Son of God. His soul leapt for joy but the devil cringed in the dark periphery surrounding the revelation, watching as the first sinner gained entry into Heaven. “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” (Luke 23:40)
Jesus said “I tell you the truth, today you shall be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)
How comforting for Jesus in his agony to be recognised for who He really was. The thief, a man of the world, who did not know Jesus from His ministry, bowed down before his Saviour King. When Jesus died Heaven rejoiced and the sinner danced, he had stolen his greatest prize at the last moment – his redemption.
The memory of the thief.
Today let us remember the lesson of this man who denied hell and stole Heaven, as we hang on our own cross of life. Let us see what the thief saw – God’s Grace.
Maurice Chevalier sang a song called “Thank Heaven for Little Girls”. It released the year I was born and adopted by my father as our song. I was definitely a daddy’s girl. I felt safe and loved in his arms.
Scarred for life : At two years old my dad discovered a lump above my tummy button, and a trip to the doctors consequently resulted in a diagnoses of an umbilical hernia. However, he decided it did not need to be operated on straight away. My dad, frightened for me, knew that the operation would leave a scar. His ‘little girl’ would be scarred for life. The lump grew and became very unsightly. My father could barely look at it. At last, at the age of four, I had my operation.
Our Song : The evening before I went into hospital, my father held me in his arms and put on the radio. ‘Our song’ was being played. Dad danced, holding me close as he would a partner and sang along:
Each time I see a little girl Of five or six or seven I can’t resist a joyous urge To smile and say Thank heaven for little girls For little girls get Bigger every day Thank heaven for little girls They grow up in The most delightful way. Those little eyes So helpless and appealing When they were flashing Send you crashing Through the ceiling Thank heaven for little girls Thank heaven for them all No matter where, No matter who Without them What would little boys do Thank heaven Thank heaven Thank heaven for little girls.
An intimate moment : Finally, as the song ended, I wiped his tears away then brushed my hand through his Brylcreem hair; the stickiness made me express my distaste for this product. Seeing dad’s distress, I hugged him hard and kissed him many times. “Don’t worry. I will be alright, Daddy.” To my delight, the dance continued around the kitchen table long after the song finished on the radio.
Cherished memory :Consequently, this memory has always been my most vivid. Hence, this intimate moment with my dad has had to last me a lifetime. Two years later, he left my life via my parent’s divorce. As a result, God had to step into the breach. He became my daddy, and I, His ‘Daddy’s girl’. He would now sing to me “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.” And in time, He put a new song on my heart:
Deuteronomy 31:6(NKJV) “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
Do you have a vivid memory that has not dimmed over time or one that God has replaced to heal the previous one?