Faith of a Thief

Sometimes I just can’t believe that it’s real- that our Savior has really prepared a place for those who believe in him.  Whether through my own death or his return, that I will really be in heaven one day seems…distant and strange.  It is simultaneously my glorious hope and a source of unbelief.  For some reason, I know with everything in me that Jesus died for sinners; that my sin has been completely covered by his blood, and that he has risen indeed!  Death could not hold him and he now sits at the right hand of the Father.  But to imagine being with him in heaven?  Sometimes I just can’t grasp it.  

Yet, when I read Revelation 21 and 22 my heart swells at the very truth John recorded.  He shall wipe away every tear; There will be no night there; They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.  

Before John was given the beatific vision of heaven, he recorded these words spoken by Jesus: “In my Father’s house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3).  As every word Jesus spoke has proven true, how could I doubt these words?  Like the possessed boy’s father I can only pray, I believe!  Help my unbelief!  (Mark 9:24)

As is the way of God, he has chosen the foolish things to shame the wise, the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that are.  I find this again in the thief on the cross.  

There he was, a common criminal nailed to a tree, reaping the punishment he had sown by his crimes.  I don’t know what he knew of a coming Messiah or if he had read the words of the prophets.  He was not a follower of Jesus and had never heard him speak. Yet, this man next to Jesus became a believer who exercised faith.  His words, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” were bold.  But this dying man had everything to gain, and nothing to lose.  Still, I wonder what he expected Jesus to say.  Did he think his boldness would pay off?  Whether he did or not, he spoke the words nonetheless.  He professed belief and made his request.  

I can only imagine what it must have been like to hear Jesus’ reply: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”  Oh, how I wish the thief’s response was recorded for us in Scripture!  No greater words could be heard by any human ear, let alone a dying criminal.   What a beautiful irony that his greatest joy on earth came as he hung with outstretched arms on a cross, gasping his last breaths.  He was now a man saved by grace through faith awaiting an eternity with the Suffering Servant beside him.  

Contrasted with the thief I have had years upon years of solid Bible reading and teaching.  I know the covenants and the fulfilled prophecies; I see the fulfillment of the Old Testament in the New.  I know he rises again as our living hope, and I know the ending of Revelation.  Moreover, I know how He has changed my life.  

And yet, this common thief’s faith was based on none of that.  He saw Jesus for who he was, trusted him, and called out to be saved.  A convicting reminder that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit.        

Like the thief, I am a sinner saved by grace.  As such, I will hold fast to the Savior’s promise of Paradise, and I will trust the Spirit-inspired words of the apostles: that for those who believe in the name of Jesus, a glorious inheritance is waiting.  One that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading; the likes of which no eye has seen, nor ear heard.  

This I know and believe, even though I struggle to comprehend it.  Yet, I will pray for the Lord to hasten the day when my faith shall be sight.  I will pray to have the faith of a thief.    

Published by Nicole Byrum

Hello! I have been a therapist in the community mental health field for the last 13 years. During this time I have worked with numerous women in recovery from substance abuse. It was this work, along with my relationship with Jesus, that inspired me to write my first book, Remade: Living Free. I have found writing to be a joy and it is my aim through this website to continue to share my faith, insights, and hope with my readers. Some fun facts about me: I have been married for 15 years and have 2 children; I love to read, run and cook; Even though I have lived in Ohio for most of my life I am not a fan of cold weather!

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