A Humble Thief

The bravest prayer of humility, after Jesus’ Gethsemane utterance, comes from the mouth of a thief, minutes before his death.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”  But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:39-43.

The thief is physically at his lowest – his body is stretched out on a cross. He’s emotionally at his lowest – he’s guilty and his punishment is the instrument of shame. He’s spiritually at his lowest – a few more breaths before hell.

It’s almost too late. He could so easily believe there is no hope. But he opens his mouth and confesses the justice of his punishment, the innocence of Jesus, and then he asks. He has no pride left. He asks for grace. “Jesus, remember me…”

Do we have the same level of humility as the thief on the cross? Can we open our mouths when we are at our lowest? When hope seems passed, when the emotional bomb is seconds from imploding our hearts, when the world says, “You fool.” Will we open our mouths and pray the bravest prayer?

Humility leads to grace, and grace is free for the asking. Jesus didn’t say to the thief, “Took you long enough.” He said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Grace is immediate. Today. You can have grace today, if you ask. The only thing that hinders grace is the pride that keeps our mouths shut. So pray the bravest prayer. Even if you’ve prayed it before, it’s okay to admit again that you need Him.

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