Encountering the Thief on the CrossLuke 23:39-43
The Gospel of Luke Part IV - Encountering Jesus
J. Josh Smith
June 12, 2016
Jesus did not suffer so that you wouldn’t have to; Jesus suffered so that suffering would not prevail over you. The two thieves on the cross demonstrate two different hearts toward God—one marked by cynicism and rage and the other marked by faith and acceptance. What determined the state of their hearts was how they responded to the suffering God had brought into their lives.
The first thief was plagued by shortsightedness; he did not recognize his own sin, God’s grace, or the fact that the Savior was suffering for him and with him. While our cynicism and bitterness toward God may never become as pronounced as that of the first thief, we can nevertheless harbor these feelings in our heart toward God, sometimes for many years, because of how we responded to a season of suffering He brought into our life.
Do you see any of the first thief’s attitude in your heart? Whenever we harbor anger or bitterness in our hearts toward God, it is the result of some unmet desire (e.g. I wanted a family; I wanted a particular type of marriage; I wanted a particular lifestyle; I wanted health; etc.). Ask God to give you a desire for Him, and to be like Him, that far surpasses whatever unmet desire has led to your anger. God is able to turn your anger into peace and even joy by delivering you from shortsightedness and giving you an eternal perspective.
Even if you do not sense any anger or bitterness in your heart toward God, make sure you have a biblical understanding of suffering so that you can minister to those who are suffering. We need to weep with those who weep and encourage one another with words of truth rather than words of pop psychology.
Anger, Bitterness, Brokenness, Forgiveness, Obedience, Sacrifice, Suffering