By Deolu Akinyemi
The Holy Spirit convicted me about how I had been a thief. You would think that thieves should know that they are thieves, but not me. Stealing was so natural that I felt it was the right thing until I saw Jesus’ view of it.
I wasn’t the only thief however – a number of people may discover that they are also thieves. Stealing can be in your past, if you repent of it, but if you don’t know that you are a thief, then you may still be a thief. We all confess that we were crucified with Christ, well, yes, there were two thieves that were crucified with Christ, and though we have always looked at them like thieves, it wasn’t fun discovering that I was in their company too.
39 “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
There are two thieves here, both crucified with Christ. There is the forgotten thief, and the remembered thief.
Characteristics of the forgotten thief.
- He wants Jesus to prove himself. If he is the Christ, he should save himself and save us.
- He wants Jesus to save himself, then Jesus can save him. This means for Jesus to give him prosperity, Jesus must first be perceived as rich. For Jesus to offer him value, he must have that value as well.
- He wants to use Jesus for immediate value, what he can get from Jesus today!
- His value for Jesus was connected with this life! He wasn’t ready to die, he wanted Jesus to save them from death. He wanted a definition of salvation that can happen in this earth.
Everyone whose message, and view of Jesus is for personal use, every message of prosperity, message of God will give you open heavens, God will bless you which is inclined towards earthly and material value, represents the position of the forgotten thief.
Characteristics of the remembered thief
- He doesn’t want Jesus to prove himself, whether he saves him from this predicament or not is not a basis for his recognizing him as Christ.
- He takes Christ upon faith, nothing needs to be done, no if’s just trusts. He’s going to die, that’s fine, Jesus is Lord.
- He does not want Jesus to give him immediate value. He wants Jesus to remember him. His focus is not on life on this side of eternity. He reaches out by faith into a life in a new kingdom.
- He doesn’t crave the salvation categorization into freedom, health, wealth, career and all the materialistic leanings of those who are oblivious of the value of eternity. He craves that after he dies, Jesus would remember him.
- He sees Jesus as Lord! Many call Jesus Lord, but don’t operate with him as their Lord. Lordship means this person owns all! You can’t give to a Lord, a Lord is in total ownership, and the one who has a lord is in total surrender. No exclusive needs, no exclusive wants, just total surrender to Jesus’ Lordship.
Everyone whose eyes are on Jesus for eternal value is this remembered thief. Everyone whose message is not about things and materialism is this remembered thief. Once you are not about what you can use Jesus for now, but you are seeking first and exclusively the kingdom of God you are the remembered thief.
If you read this well, we were all thieves! Some are the thieves that Jesus has forgiven and remembers, some of us are thieves who expect Jesus to save them now!
“Bless me Jesus, that the whole world may know that you are my savior”, these are the prayers of forgotten thieves.
Which thief are you? Confession time.