prayer of the penitent thief

The Better Side of the Cross

If we have the means to purchase a ticket to a much-awaited concert or a spectacular show we will definitely look for the seat with the best view. No one wants to be on the far side or a place where one can almost not see the performers.

In the awful, disgusting, and eerie scenes of the crucifixion where do you want to have your seat?

No one wanted to be there. Like most of Jesus’ disciples, we would probably be hiding in the crowd and quickly vanish away. The terror of everything that is happening around would surely send chills down our spine and instinctively pull our feet away. We do not want to be one of those hanging on the cross. If they can do it to Jesus, they could surely do to any of His followers.

But what if we do not have a choice to leave? What if we were the ones sentenced to death through the horrible Roman way of crucifixion? Like the thieves hanging with Jesus that day, what do we do?

Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Ellen White explained why the repentant thief had the best “seat and view” in that climax of executing the plan of redemption.

“To Jesus in His agony on the cross there came one gleam of comfort. It was the prayer of the penitent thief. Both the men who were crucified with Jesus had at first railed upon Him; and one under his suffering only became more desperate and defiant. But not so with his companion. This man was not a hardened criminal; he had been led astray by evil associations, but he was less guilty than many of those who stood beside the cross reviling the Saviour. He had seen and heard Jesus, and had been convicted by His teaching, but he had been turned away from Him by the priests and rulers. Seeking to stifle conviction, he had plunged deeper and deeper into sin, until he was arrested, tried as a criminal, and condemned to die on the cross.”

“The Holy Spirit illuminates his mind, and little by little the chain of evidence is joined together. In Jesus, bruised, mocked, and hanging upon the cross, he sees the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. Hope is mingled with anguish in his voice as the helpless, dying soul casts himself upon a dying Saviour. “Lord, remember me,” he cries, “when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.”

“Quickly the answer came. Soft and melodious the tone, full of love, compassion, and power the words: Verily I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with Me in paradise.”

“As He spoke the words of promise, the dark cloud that seemed to enshroud the cross was pierced by a bright and living light. To the penitent thief came the perfect peace of acceptance with God. Christ in His humiliation was glorified. He who in all other eyes appeared to be conquered was a Conqueror. He was acknowledged as the Sin Bearer. Men may exercise power over His human body. They may pierce the holy temples with the crown of thorns. They may strip from Him His raiment, and quarrel over its division. But they cannot rob Him of His power to forgive sins. In dying He bears testimony to His own divinity and to the glory of the Father. His ear is not heavy that it cannot hear, neither His arm shortened that it cannot save. It is His royal right to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by Him.” (Desire of Ages, pp. 750-751)

With humility of our hearts to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may we find our personal best “seat and view” on the cross and experience again and again the love of Jesus: our Creator and Redeemer.


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