Monday: The Thief on the Cross and the “Everlasting Gospel”

In Revelation 14:6, the message to be proclaimed to the world is “the everlasting gospel”. It’s a message of hope for people in a world that, in and of itself, offers no hope at all.

The Everlasting Gospel

Image © Lars Justinen

Read Luke 23:32-43. How does this story reveal the great hope of the “everlasting gospel” for all sinners?

Writing about the thief, Ellen G. White said that though not a hardened criminal, he had been “seeking to stifle conviction” about Jesus, and so “had plunged deeper and deeper into sin, until he was arrested, tried as a criminal, and condemned to die on the cross”. — Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages , p. 749.

Yet, what happened to him? As he hung on the cross, the thief got a glimpse of who Jesus was, and so he cried out: “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (Luke 23:42, NKJV) .

And how did Jesus respond? Did He say: Well, friend, I’d like to help you, but you should have not stifled your convictions by plunging deeper and deeper into sin? Did Jesus quote one of His earlier sermons: “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20, NKJV) ? Did Jesus, in any way, bring up the thief’s past mistakes?

No. Instead, Jesus turned to this criminal, this thief with a faulty character who had nothing to offer in the way of righteousness and who earlier had been cursing him (Matt. 27:44) . Seeing him as a new man, Jesus said (basically): I am telling you, right now, I am giving you the assurance, right now, that your sin, your crimes, your faults, are forgiven, and thus “you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43, NKJV).

Here is the “everlasting gospel”, the foundation of the first angel’s message. Without this truth, nothing else we teach about the law, the Sabbath, or the state of the dead matters. What good are these teachings without the “everlasting gospel” at the heart of them all?

What hope can you take for yourself from this story?

Leave a comment

Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons