And he said unto Jesus Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him verily I say unto thee today shall thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23.42/43.
FREE GRACE INDEED
“And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, verily I say unto thee, today shall thou be with me in paradise.” Luke 23.42/43.
In this passage the glory of Free Grace shines unrivalled. Indeed it is conspicuous through the whole scriptures. There we have many instances recorded which evidence the freeness of that salvation which is in Jesus. As in the conversion of the woman of Samaria: what did she do to procure the notice of the Saviour of the world? Did she draw water for Him when He was thirsty or supply Him with a seat when He came to her weary? This mark of respect and attention to His bodily fatigues, had she shewn it, would have been but a poor recompence for His condescension in speaking to her and a very small inducement for Him to save her soul. But behold and wonder! “Hear, O heavens, and give ear O earth.” (Isa. 1:2) “Be astonished O heavens” (Jer. 2:12) that a person of infamous character should attract His regard and that an adulteress should be employed to preach the Gospel in Samaria. The prospect of His divine skill and amazing dexterity in bringing about such strange and speedy revolutions in the human mind was that which made Isaiah cry out “in the wilderness shall water break out and streams in the desert.” The parched ground shall become a pool and thirsty land springs of water.” (Isa. 35:6, 7) Rivers generally keep within their proper bounds and gently glide in their usual channels but at times they overflow their banks and water the adjacent hillocks. So grace in the case of the Samaritan woman may be said to make the most barren land fruitful and a great sinner became the publisher of glad tidings to her friends and acquaintances.
Very remarkable was the conversion of Mary Magdalene:
and signal was the calling of Paul. Yet Mary might have seen several of our Lord’s miracles and heard many of His sermons;
or the good example of her neighbours might have shown her as in a glass her own deformity and discovered to her the odiousness of her wicked practices. Paul was particularly favoured. He saw a ‘light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about him’; he heard a powerful voice which smote him to the earth and levelled him with (he dust out of which he had been taken. But the thief mentioned in my text was, as far as
we can learn, left destitute of all these advantages. He saw no miracles, no good example, no glory, no light. He heard no sermons or voice from heaven. He was suspended on the fatal tree and, drawing near the end of his sinful course, had nothing presented to his view but a bruised Christ, torn and mangled on the cross as if He had as justly deserved this doom as either of those who suffered with Him. Here is free grace indeed! Let our hearts burn with gratitude to our redeeming God and let our lips resound His praise. Though this man was as far from believing in and loving his Saviour Jesus Christ as the east is from the west, yet he was converted in a few minutesÂ—converted from a thief into a saint. But this man was made both a possessor and confessor of Jesus Christ in a moment and translated from the gallows to paradise. What a wonderful change is this, that a robber sentenced to the cross and railing at his fellow sufferer should, as it were, in the twinkling of an eye, be absolved from his sins and be enabled to make a public profession of his faith in the divinity of that Jesus, who seemed as a malefactor to expire with him.
In this one act all the attributes of God are displayed and shine with the most glorious splendour. Here His wisdom appeared in reconciling so speedily things so opposite in their nature. The preacher saith that “there is a time to be born and a time to dieÂ—a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is plantedÂ—a time to kill and a time to healÂ—a time to break down and a time to build upÂ—a time to weep and a time to laugh.” (Eccl. 3:2-4). Now all these very contrary extremes, did wisdom unite and concentrate in the conversion of the thief. Behold! He is born to Christ and dies to the world: behold! grace is planted in his soul and sin is plucked by the roots from it: behold! the Son of God receives deadly wounds in His own body and heals his wounded heart: behold the body of death broken down and the work of grace built up: behold him weeping for his sins and yet rejoicing at the reviving news that he should be so soon with Jesus in paradise!
In the wonderful transaction too, the omnipotence of God is not concealed. St. Chrysostom declares ‘that this was a greater miracle than that the sun was darkened, that the earth was shaken, that the rocks were cleaved asunder, or that the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.’ What was the darkening of the sun when compared with the enlightening of a dark understanding: what was the cleaving of the rocks in comparison with the softening of a hard, stony, adamant heart: or the rending of the temple vail with the removal of the vail of ignorance from the soul? The rod with which Moses evidenced his divine mission is a strong confirmation as well as a pertinent illustration of this truth. It had authority over the earth, the sea and the elements: light, darkness, and every creature within its reach were subjects to its command. But it had
no power or influence over Pharoah’s hard heart. Behold! it is easier to tear the rock in pieces than to melt the human heart. O Jesus! none but Thy spirit can do it. Here Thy omnipotence was farther manifested in making this very thief an instrument of Thy revenge on the devil, on the Pharisees, on Pilate and on the people. St. Ambrose says ‘The devil was ready to boast in every place that he was a great conqueror; since though Jesus had but twelve apostles he had seduced one of them and brought him over to his side by persuading him that it was more eligible to be a thief than an apostle.’ But see how he is foiled at his own weapons! Instead of Judas, a petty pilferer who out of the penury of the congregation had squeezed a few mites for himself and by this sacrilegious deed rather gratified his covetousness than enlarged his property, our Lord made a notorious robber His captive and snatched as his prize a man who had spent all his time in the service of the devil. Thieves are the devil’s agents: but the dear Jesus laid hold on the vilest of them, rescued him from the infernal band and left the devil to ruminate, at his leisure, on his disgraceful overthrow. O how ought it to have covered Pilate, the Pharisees, the priests and the people with shame that a thief should know the Lord better than they, and that his tongue should be loud in confessing his attachment to Him, while all their tongues were glued in silence. Here is a triumph which bespoke the valiant Leader and a victory which Jesus only could obtain.
The humility of our Lord is also clearly seen in His submitting to be also extended on the ignominious cross to save a thief. Oh! to what a depth of abasement did He descend that he might do us good. It was astonishing condescension in Him that ‘He took upon him the form of man’, greater condescension it was that He assumed the ‘form of a servant’ and greater still it was that He became “a worm and no man” (Psa 22:6) but greater than all it was that He died like a thief, between two thieves. In the garden Jesus told them who came to apprehend Him “are you come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me?” (Matt. 26:55). There He was apprehended as if He had been a thief; here He dies like a thief in consequence of an unjust condemnation. A thief is rather more detestable than other criminals because the temptations to this crime are not so cogent as to many other sins. You may read in Leviticus 11 of unclean beasts, such as the weasel, the mouse and the kite, and in the history of them you will find that as they are all thieves so they are forbidden under the law to be either food or sacrifice. But behold the love of Christ! He accepts the tongue of a thief and permits it to proclaim His innocency. He could, with equal ease, have used a prophet’s or an evangelist’s tongue and made it subservient to His glory. But he chose the tongue of a thief that from the meanest of instruments His power might be the more apparent. Samson slew armed men with the jawbone of an ass which, though it was a blunt and untowardly weapon, yet discovered his strength and gave surer proofs of his prowess than if he had been furnished with the sword of Goliath or with the club of Hercules.
Here is compassionÂ—unbounded compassionÂ—displayed. The Lord of life pouring out the blood of His heart in the midst of thieves that He might expiate the guilt of one of them. Last of all here are expertness and uncommon dispatch shewn. Jesus is a curious and expeditious workman. He doeth wonders. When a tree hath grown awry and all its branches lean to one side it is a hundred to one but that it will fall on that side. But here is a man whose bias had been strong towards hell all his life long who yet, when he comes to be cut down, hath his inclinations turned heavenward. His crookedness is not only made straight but his perverseness is cured and his soul is fitted for an inheritance among them that are sanctified. O who could be so dexterous as to effect all this in so short a time but the Chief Architect himself! With what expedition doth He finish his work! In an instant He carried this man through every necessary grace and brought them into actual exercise in him; godly fear, repentance, prayer, confession, and faith to lay hold on His promise.
By saving one thief and leaving the other to receive the due reward of his deeds is signified to us that the election prevailed.
“I loved Jacob and I hated Esau”, yea saith St. Paul, “before the children were born or had done either good or evil”. (Mal. 1:2. 3; Rom. 9:11). And again saith Paul “hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour?” (Rom. 9:21), God’s judgments are very secret and unsearchable. It is our duty to honour and reverence them rather than dispute about them, ever crying out with the apostle. “O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! (Rom. 9:23). Austin observes that Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar were equally blessed with respect to the means of conversion but that these means had a very different effect upon them. The one was hardened and the other was humbled. They were both men, both kings, of the same nature and guilty of the same crime: both led the children of God into captivity. Both evil entreated Israel and caused them to shed abundance of tears while they smarted under their scourge. Both were visited with plagues from heaven and both alike were admonished to know the rod and Him who appointed it. How then came the same means not to make the same impression upon them? One of them was led to say ‘Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the king of heaven” (Dan. 4.37);
while the other persisted in his obstinacy and at the eve of life exclaimed ‘who is the Lord?’ The Almighty loves to display His sovereignty and to act freely without control. He saith to Moses “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” (Exod. 33:19). None durst call Pharaoh to account for his treatment of Joseph’s fellow
prisoners; i.e. for advancing one from prison to his former office and for hanging the other. No, we choose to be at liberty ourselves to do as we please. But we would confine the Lord to do as we like and limit His dealings with the children of men within the bounds of our narrow conception. We would lay righteousness itself to our crooked line and find fault if it doth not agree with our scanty admeasurement. But notwithstanding all outcry, as if His ways were not equal. He will do what seemeth good in His own sight without consulting us or being influenced by our opinions. “Where two are in the field one shall be taken and the other left.” (Matt. 24:40, 41). Down therefore in the dust let us bow before Him and acknowledge our acquiescence in His sovereign will.
The next instruction that may be gathered from the distinguishing favour shown to one of the thieves, who, when on the cross, reviled our Lord and cast the same reproaches in His teeth as the other, is this: we may learn from the mercy given to the one and with-holding from the other that the safest way to heaven is between hope and fear. Fear is the cable which lays hold on hope and hope is the anchor which keeps fear firm. Fear makes thee cowardly and fainthearted when thou considerest what thou art; how little good there is in thee, how unworthy thou art of any blessing, yea even to breathe in God’s air. But hope makes thee bold and enterprising by showing thee how good the Lord is; how infinite He is in mercy and matchless in His love, yea, even millions of degrees “surpassing the love of women”. (2 Sam. 1:26). Upon these graces of hope and fear doth the Lord confer His benefits and dispense His gifts. “He taketh pleasure in them who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” (Psa. 147:11). and put their trust in His goodness. Of Issachar, Jacob prophesied “that he should be a strong ass crouching between two burdens.” (Gen. 49:14). He could not miss his way between these two burdens which like two hedges kept him from straying either to the right hand or to the left. In like manner, O believer, is thy passage to everlasting life strait and secure between the fear of hell and the hope of heaven. The one preserves thee from presumption, the other from despair. There is more efficacy in godly fear, though any fear is better than none, than the world is aware of. The less thou hast to lose, the less thy fear of losing it. “Old age hath made me fearless” was the Roman’s reply to Caesar when he threatened to kill him. His meaning was that as in the course of nature he had but a few years to live, he was unconcerned whether he should die then or drag on a life which could not last much longer. But the just may think within himself that he hath an eternity before him which he may come short of if he be not kept in fear of sinning, and continually waiting in hope for the coming of his Lord. Here then are two strong bulwarks to fence you in on each side and to keep you in the narrow path. The one is the thief who was left to perish in his unbelief and the other is the thief who found
favour with the Lord. The former should teach you to fear lest any of you should run and not obtain the prize. Some may to appearance be near heaven while they stand on the brink of hell. And others may seem to be verging towards destruction, while God is drawing them to himself. Take heed therefore to yourselves, watch and pray. And the latter, when you consider his condition and the time of his deliverence, should silence the reasonings of despondency and encourage your confidence, seeing there is a Jesus who can deliver at the eleventh hour and can save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by Him. The devil tried every invention that he could devise to thrust Job from his centre and to lessen his trust in God. By fire from heaven he destroyed his substance. By the bitter words of his companions and intimate friends he rendered his life a burden unto him. And as it were expostulated with him to his face sayingÂ—’What canst thou do now but despond and die? Thou hast no room to look for help either from God or from man. Thou art utterly rejected. There is no one who hath pity on thee. Come then curse thy God and die.’ Yet Job maintained his confidence in God and professed that “though he slay me, yet I will trust him.” (Job 13:15).
St. Ambrose supposes that despair is a more heinous sin than any other, not as it is the greatest offence against God but as it is the most dangerous to men. It bars the gate of blessedness against them and cuts off every possibility of their salvation. Hence it is the foremost on the blacklist, as if the Almighty was more sensible of the evil which they do to themselves than of that which is done against Him. It is without a doubt that He seeks the happiness of His people in all things and that He hath “delight in the prosperity of his servants.” (Psa. 35:27). Judas’s despair had a tendancy to do greater injury to Jesus Christ than his selling Him. For by selling Him he only despised His manhood;
but by his despair he cast the greatest slur on his Godhead and judged Him to be like himself, devoid both of the will and the power to relent. As he could not pacify or forgive himself he thought that the Lord must likewise be inexorable or as hard to forgive, and so he was for exterminating this Holy One of Israel. “Woe unto them for they have gone in the way of Cain.” (Jude 11). How is that? They suppose their iniquity to be greater than can be pardoned as he testified of old. But St. Ambrose saith ‘Thou art mistaken Cain,’ Greater is the Lord’s mercy than the sins of the whole world. O wonderful and infinite goodness which can bring life out of death, light out of darkness, the salvation of sinners out of the condemnation of the Saviour, and designs to bestow that paradise on the thief upon the cross which was forfeited by Adam in the height of his integrity. When God’s people said ‘Our bones are dried and our hope is lost’ His answer by his prophet was ‘I will open your graves and you will live.’ And to imprint this truth the deeper on their hearts. He showed His prophet the vision of a valley full of dry bones
quickened into life. God’s mercy knows neither measure nor end, O let us call upon Him with eager importunity and He will hear us. Let us seek for grace to repent and He will pardon us. Nay, we can never be so much pleased and delighted in being forgiven as He is in forgiving us. Who then should distrust or give way to despondency?
Let us now consider the great change that divine grace wrought in this man. 1. All that he had he gave to the Lord. His hands and his feet were nailed to the cross. Over these he had no command. Only his heart and his tongue were at his disposal and these he freely devoted to the service of Jesus. His tongue to vindicate His uprightness saying that He had done nothing amiss and his heart to love Him wishing to be with Him in His Kingdom. Yea, his tongue to confess Him and his heart to believe in Him. Herein is comprised the whole of man’s salvation. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead thou shalt be saved.” (Rom. 10:9).
2. He bare witness against himself saying, “We receive the due reward of our deeds.” This is usual with the godly. They confess their transgressions unto the Lord and their iniquity do they not hide. The prodigal said unto his father ‘I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight and am no more worthy to be called thy son.’ And the publican in like manner smote upon his breast and cried ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ To this acknowledgement of our guilt and abhorrence of ourselves for our misdeeds we are principally and above all things exhorted by our Lord. “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself.” [Mark 8:34). Had Adam accused instead of excused himself it is probable that he would not have been driven out of paradise. How much better had it been for Judas, humanly speaking, to have said ‘I am he. Master’ than to ask ‘Is it I?’ He forfeited heaven by seeming to be what he was not. O self-condemnation is a precious grace in the sight of God. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).
3. He prayed “remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom.” With what humility is his request fraught. He doth not pray “Lord make me a citizen of thy kingdom,” or “Honour me as Thou used to honour those who wait upon Thee,” or “Crown me with a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” No! No, his ambition doth not tower so high, but with tears in his eyes he only sobs out “remember me.” I deserve nothing but misery. I have not the happy privilege to die for Thee but I die with Thee. It is the grief and distress of my soul that I knew Thee not sooner, that I might have endured the torture of the cross in Thy service and for Thy sake. That I might have laid down my life, yea millions of lives if I had them, as a sacrifice of oblation to Thy love.” He doth not pray “Lord take away these pains of death
under which I labour; remove these agonies and make my passage easy to the invisible world.” No, No, but he saith “I deserve to suffer and let my sufferings whether they be quick or lingering, acute or torpid, terminate in my death; only remember me. If it be long before Thou comest into Thy kingdom let me suffer till Thou dost come. I will not think Thee tedious, only remember me sometime.”
4. He had great faith. It may be compared with the faith of Abraham, Isaiah, Moses and the woman of Canaan. And it may well be supposed that his faith exceeded all theirs. If Abraham believed, it is not much to be wondered at because he received great and precious promises from the Lord Himself. If Isaiah believed, it is not so marvellous because he saw the Lord sitting upon His throne in glory and great majesty, surrounded with those seraphim who cried unto one another “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.” If Moses believed, who can be surprised at the report? Why? Because the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked and behold the bush burned with fire and the bush was not consumed. If the faith of the three disciples was great, great was the sight they had of Jesus on the mount of transfiguration when His face did shine as the sun and His raiment was white as the light. And while a bright cloud overshadowed them they heard a voice out of the cloud which said “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him.” (Matt. 17:2-5). Something similar to this may be said of Paul’s faith, Nathaniel’s faith and the woman of Canaan’s faith. But the thief saw not the Lord on His throne, or in the bush, or the mount, or in the cloud, in the scriptures or in His miracles. It is conjectured that he had heard how Judas had betrayed and sold Him, how His disciples had forsaken Him and how the people hated and slighted Him. Indeed he hears their blasphemy and perfectly understands the danger of owning any acqaintance with Him. Yet nothwithstanding all these forbidding circumstances, yea though he sees Him hanging on a cross, he makes his petition to Him with as much fervour and abasement as if he eyed Him sitting upon His throne in heaven. What can be added to this man’s faith? I know not. He believes in Jesus in the face of every obstacle and proclaims His glory while He was in the depth of His humiliation. O the stupendous work of God! Who would not put their trust in Him? Some who had seen our Lord raise the dead were afterwards shaken in their faith and at times were known to waver. But this man firmly believed in Him when he beheld Him nailed to the cross and sinking under the pains of death in His own person.
Doubtless He was confident that He would rise again or he would not have prayed to Him when He was dying. Yes, yes, he was enabled to believe in the resurrection of the dead: and this is a desirable Article in the church’s creed. He had also grace to
believe the immortality of the soul and the everlasting continuance of the life to come. See how grace exceeds nature! His fellow thief knew no life but the present. Deliverance here was all that he desired. O he cared not for the eternal world. He only said ‘If Thou be the Christ save Thyself and us. If Thou hast any power exert it in rescuing us from this ignominious and agonising cross. Restore Thyself to liberty and us to our former agreeable occupation. If Thou canst, prolong our days that we may enjoy the sweets of sin instead of enduring these tortures”. And, alas! many, too many, are they who entertain the same sentiments in this our day. May He who intercedes in heaven for the fallen race of Adam open their eyes and correct their erroneous judgments, Amen. On the contrary the penitent thief had grace to relieve the words which our Lord spake unto Pilate when Be said ‘My kingdom is not of this world.” And he believed them in direct opposition to some of the disciples themselves, even those two who, thinking that Christ’s kingdom was merely temporal, requested to ‘sit one on His right hand and the other on His left in His kingdom.’
5. His assurance was great. He rested entirely in Him who
had no rest for Himself but hung between earth and heaven. Daniel was very composed and confident in the lion’s den, but he knew that God had sent His angel to shut their mouths, and that they were so tamed as to be ready to lick the soles of his feet. And David was full of confidence in the midst of Saul’s army, but he knew that the Lord preserved him. But this man, even while all circumstances seemed to be conspiring against him, while his breath was departing and his Lord was expiring by his side, was yet even in this gloomy moment full of hope and reposed a calm and steady trust in his redeeming God. O faith, great was thy triumph here!
6. His love was full, as great as his hope. Saith Solomon “Love is as strong as death.” (Song. 8:6). His love to Jesus was so inflamed that he could not bear his companion to say anything against Him, though the blessed Lamb of God Himself was as dumb as a sheep under the shearer’s hands. Where are the apostles for whom thrones are prepared in heaven? Do they reprove the blaspheming thief and put to silence his malignant tongue? No, they are fled and busy hiding themselves for fear of the Jews. See how this man is honoured even above the disciples themselves. In their weakness they were left to imminent dangers. But he was established in the faith, and strengthened to stand up for Christ when all the rest had forsaken Him. Our Lord said unto Peter, who was a great apostle, if not the greatest, ‘whither I go thou canst not follow me now.’ (John: 13:36). But to this man he directly saith thou shalt follow Me nowÂ—”for this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.” With what dispatch is he made meet for heaven. How soon doth he receive a testimony of his title to paradise. Though his death treads as it were upon the heels of
his conversion yet he is not obliged to wait till death for this testimony. It is imparted to him while he is yet in the body. The Lord was pleased to make short work in the conversion of Paul. He was arrested in the midst of his mad career and brought nigh when he was far from grace. Yea, when he was, in my opinion, very unfit to receive any favour, for he was at that very time breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord. Armed with a commission from the high priest he was filled with rage against them and furiously bent to rend them out of the earth. But suddenly a light encompassed him, suddenly he was struck to the ground, suddenly he heard a voice from heaven which quelled his rage and tamed his fury so that he was content to be led by the hand to Damascus. When the Lord laid hold on him He did not leave him till He had fulfilled all His purposes in him. Yet some days passed between his conversion and his public preaching. But this man was made both a possessor and confessor of Jesus Christ in a moment. He preached and his text was exceeding apposite to the place and occasion. He had no pen, ink or paper, and if he had his hands were bound so that he could not use them. He was therefore under a necessity of preaching extempore, that is, off hand or without much meditation. His sermon was not long but it was comprehensive and very instructive. He touched not upon civil matters. He did not speak evil of dignities or concern himself with the affairs of those who were absent. But without any circumlocution he addressed himself point-blank to his fellow thief saying, “Dost thou not fear God seeing thou art in the same condemnation? Dost thou not fear God? Thou hast no need to fear the law; that hath almost done its worst. Thou needest not fear the Jews; they have already delivered thee up to death and more they cannot do. But O the Lord can do more still. He hath power to cast thy body into hell.” Learn hence that all they who are possessed of that fear which is the beginning of wisdom are for enforcing it upon others. They would have all men feel that which proved to be beneficial to themselves and made the most lasting impression upon them. The godly are not for concealing the goodness of the Lord or restraining it from others. They are not, as some affirm, for keeping all to themselves and care not who shall sink if they can swim. No, knowing that there is bread enough in their Father’s house and to spare, with the utmost importunity they intreat their relations and their neighbours to come in. Having relished the sweetness of a divine life in their own souls they think they can never be too pressing in inviting others to partake of it. They say with David “Come and hear all ye that fear God and we will declare what he hath done for our souls.” (Psa. 66:16).
But to conclude. We see that this man had a clear and full assurance of his immediate reception into bliss or of his transition from a bad into a good world. Yea into the best world, next to the participation of divine essence, that omnipotence could bestow
upon him. ‘Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.’ Everywhere else we should be left in scarcity but there we shall have plenty. “We shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house and thou shalt make us drink of the river of thy pleasures.” (Psa. 36:8).
True it is that the just receive that which they ask not for.
The thief on the cross desires only to be remembered and lo! paradise is promised to him. When the crumbs from our Lord’s table do here so far deprive us of our understanding as to make us forget everything else, even our own-selves, how shall we leap for joy when we shall eat bread in our Father’s house and drink of that river which maketh glad the city of God! The thief was admitted into this delightful city when the evening was come without working. What then shall they receive who have borne the burden and the heat of the day? They too shall be admitted into paradise and if any of them could murmur as if they were unjustly treated they shall soon hear that reply and be silenced:
“Friend I do thee no wrong; didst thou not agree with me for a penny?” (Matt. 20:13). It was a peculiar privilege that this man enjoyed in being caught up into heaven as it were instantaneously and on the very day of his new birth. It would have been a very precious promise to him if he had only been informed on that day that at the distance of a hundred years to come he should have admittance thither: but he is favoured with immediate possession of his inheritanceÂ—’Today thou shalt be with Me in paradise.’ Grace and glory flowed in upon him at once and like a full tide impetuously carried him to the haven where he would be. It was a great mercy to have a desire excited in his soul after the enjoyment of God, but it was a greater mercy to have that desire so speedily fulfilled. Though Joseph besought his fellow prisoner to “think on him when his head should be lifted up and he should deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand after the former manner” he was forgotten for two years, notwithstanding any promise to the contrary. But this man no sooner said “remember me” than he was remembered and his request granted on the spot. O happy man, kind was the Judge with whom thou didst meet! He released thee from thy bondage and delivered thee from thy fears in a speedy as well as an affectionate manner.
He also receiveth more than he required. He only asked to be remembered and lo! the riches of paradise were conferred upon him. This was and continues to be God’s method with His children in every age. Abraham asked for a son who might inherit his possessions, but a son was given him from whose loins “as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all. God blessed for ever.” Jacob was only desirous to retain Benjamin with him. He neither sought nor expected to see Joseph: but the Lord favoured him with a sight of both before he died. Hann