Moral Matters


September 20, 2017

What we can all learn from the good thief

There are many beautiful stories in the Christian scriptures, but there is one that stands out for me. I was only a small child when I first heard the account of the ‘good thief’ who died beside Christ. It touched me then and it still moves me now. As his fellow thief mocks Christ from the cross, the good thief defends him by saying that, while they deserve their punishment, the young Nazarene does not. Then, he asks that he not be forgotten when the saviour comes into his kingdom. Christ turns, perhaps even smiles, and promises the thief nothing less than paradise. What a beautiful thing it is for one dying man to offer the other a gift of peace. A scene of horror is suddenly transfigured by a gesture of healing love. The good thief falls silent and dies redeemed. That everyone knows who the ‘good thief’ is means he is not a minor historical figure. In defending Christ unto death, he has been immortalised down the ages. He proves that, even in their last agony, people can be saved. For Christians, this unnamed criminal was the first person to enter paradise. It is a beautiful and consoling moment that teaches us much about the quality of mercy and forgiveness. There is, however, another dimension to it that is equally powerful…Read more