“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,” Acts 3:19
One of the most powerful stories of grace in the Bible can be found in the book of Acts 3:19, where Peter teaches about repentance and forgiveness. This message is exemplified in the story of the two thieves who were crucified alongside Jesus, one on his right and one on his left. Both were criminals, but something happened to one of them that caused him to repent and ask for forgiveness. This thief’s conversion has since been celebrated as a powerful example of God’s grace and mercy.
But what about the other thief? Why did he not also repent? Many theories have been put forward, from psychological to theological explanations. Many people have asked this question over the years, wondering why one thief could recognize his wrongdoing and seek forgiveness while the other remained hardened in his ways. Some speculate that perhaps it was because one thief had been exposed to Jesus’ teachings before their imprisonment, while others suggest it may have simply been a matter of personal disposition.
2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Regardless of why one thief chose to repent while the other did not, their examples offer valuable lessons from which we can all learn. As Christians, we are called to live our lives in accordance with God’s teachings. This means putting aside our desires instead of focusing on serving others and spreading love. One way we can do this is by learning from the examples set by those who had come before us, including the two thieves who were crucified alongside Jesus. That’s why 2 Timothy 3:16 said, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.
No matter what we think about the thieves’ crimes, the story shows us that Jesus came to save us, show compassion, and offer us redemption. The thief recognized his need for redemption and humbly asked for it. In response, Jesus promised him eternal life in paradise. This act of mercy shows us that no matter how far we have strayed from God, His love and forgiveness are always available to those who seek it. It also reminds us that our past does not define us – we can always choose to turn toward God and receive His amazing grace. Amen. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Lord, show me your mercy and lead me in the way I should go in Jesus’ name. Amen.