“And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:43, NLT).

From time to time, I hear of someone on their deathbed who cheers up the visitors, rather than the other way around. The sick person is so calm and at peace, he or she becomes an encouragement to the friends and family members who feel awkward and afraid in the face of the inevitable.

Two thieves, deserving of their punishment, hung on either side of Jesus. One mocked, telling him to prove he was the Messiah by saving himself and the two of them. The other defended Jesus and then asked to be remembered when he took his kingdom. Jesus forgave him and welcomed him into the life of Father, Son and Spirit, with no further action required. From the cross, as he was dying, Jesus loved the thief and all of us sinners, showing grace and mercy to the very end. He gave life even as he gave his life.