Pristine Grace

The Thief
Paraphrased in Modern English by David Bishop
by Robert Sandeman

The Thief

There is no more apt a spot for the popular preachers to stumble than at the cross. They could not have stumbled any harder had they picked the spot themselves. The appearance of Divine grace, pouring contempt on all human worth and boasting, is so striking at the cross that it is no wonder to find the popular preachers stumbling over it.

Why wasn't Christ made to suffer alongside men of equal repute with Noah, Abraham or Daniel? Why instead was He numbered with those who the world has always counted the worst of the worst? The answer is because there would be no encouragement, no hope for people like us, who identify not with Daniel, but with a common thief.

He, who had spoken no blasphemy and had committed no wrong, and who was yet capable of saving Himself and the thief beside Him, nevertheless, made no effort to save Himself nor the thief from the condemnation of the cross. Rather, by suffering the injustice of men, even men whom He had created, He pleased the Father, because He was doing the Father’s will. If God did not spare His own just and sinless Son from wrath, what hope do we sinners have should we try to stand by our own sin stained merit? If this is what God does to the tender root, what will He do to the dry?

The thief did not ask that God change his heart. Nor did he ask that God make him less a sinner than the other thief. He instead, fearful of what God’s wrath will mean for a twig as dry as himself, asks that this One, who has opened not His mouth to His accusers, nor sought to escape His Father's wrath or His Father's will, would remember him when He comes into His kingdom.