“Crucify Him, crucify Him: we have no king but Caesar,”—when the chief priests and Pharisees had condemned and found Him “guilty of death,”—when even His own disciples had forsaken Him and fled—when He was hanging, faint, bleeding, and dying on the cross, numbered with transgressors, and accounted accursed. This was the hour when the thief believed in Christ, and prayed to Him.
The disciples had seen mighty signs and miracles. They had seen the dead raised with
a word—and lepers healed with a touch —the blind receiving sight—the dumb made to speak—the lame made to walk. They had seen thousands fed with a few loaves and fishes. They had seen their Master walking on the water as on dry land. They had all of them heard Him speak as no man ever spoke, and hold out promises of good things yet to come. They had some of them had a foretaste of His glory in the mount of transfiguration. Doubtless their faith was “the gift of God,” but still they had much to help it.
The dying thief saw none of these things. He only saw Jesus in agony, and in weakness, in suffering, and in pain. He saw Him undergoing a dishonourable punishment; deserted, mocked, despised, blasphemed. He saw Him rejected by all the great, and wise, and noble of His own people—His strength dried up like a potsherd, His life drawing nigh to the grave. (Ps. 22:15; 88: 3.) He saw no sceptre, no royal crown, no outward dominion, no glory, no majesty, no power, no signs of might. And yet the dying thief believed, and looked forward to Christ’s kingdom.
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