We only know about him because he held the unique and dishonorable distinction of being a thief, and one who was caught at that. He died in disgrace, poverty and agony. He was tortured, crucified and died.
Thieves often come under cover of darkness, in confusion, or perhaps on social media; places where they can easily hide and are rarely called out. And thieves- they can be so compelling. They are often masters of disguise, presenting themselves as one thing all the while working underhandedly to steal and destroy. Thieves are con artists- they are the masters at bait and switch. I would venture that many unwitting, well meaning people have handed over that which further damns the thief to their ultimate demise. Thieves are, by definition jealous people who are not content with their lot in life and perhaps even work to destroy that which they claim they now want or was taken from them.
The well known thief on the cross probably worked under cover of night, or in secrecy, or in a crowd, but died in broad daylight, exposed and disgraced.
We’ve all done it. Shared that juicy tidbit, been outraged by accusations, shocked at what we’ve just heard. In fact, I would venture to say that a good thief- one has honed their craft- is subtle enough to tweak the facts just so, so that the we see a bit of truth in the claims, “Ah yes, I always knew he was demanding- I see how he’s a bully,” But few – if any of us- actually go to the person who is the true victim of thief’s crime to seek truth. Reacting to a claim takes little from us. Acting as a Chrsitian takes everything.
But let’s be honest, we are all thieves. Each one of us. We’ve all claimed what wasn’t ours, been jealous and petty, said a little – or big lie- to justify our own sin. Projected onto others so that we are not discovered. We’ve all taken something precious and destroyed it. We’ve all defiled the purity and holiness of the Living God; stolen from others and bankrupt them; stolen from ourselves and defiled what and who are called to do and be.
We are all thieves, hanging on the cross- disgraced, found out, naked and exposed.
Some of us proudly jut out our chins and die, sealing our fate. Others of us accept the free give of mercy and salvation and recognize that the man in the middle holds the power of life and death with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. His arms- stretched out on the cross- nailed there in humiliation – have the power of life and death, hell or resurrection.
We are all thieves. And we can all look to the Man in the middle. It’s not too late- whether we are successful in our thieving or exposed. Either way, the Living Christ is the truth holder and knows of our disgrace, death, corruption, jealousy, bitterness and hate.
The one hanging there is the middle- HE is the Living Christ. He offers the free gift of salvation to all who believe. He has raised the dead to life- each one of us- dead in our transgressions, if you only look to Him and believe! Alleluia!