The Thief Next Door

April 6, 2012 by Paul Chappell

Jesus didn’t just tell us to love our neighbor. He did it Himself.

In the darkest scene of utter injustice, Jesus was stretched on a cross between two thieves: “Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left” (Matthew 27:38).

But even in that hour, Jesus loved the thief—His “neighbor”: “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

What a glimpse into the compassion of Christ!

Our tendency is to focus on our own burdens and look past the people near us who need the Lord. And yet, in the very throes of His crucifixion agony, Jesus cared for the eternal soul of the man next to Him.

The death and subsequent resurrection of Christ would have meant nothing to this thief—even though he was actually present as it happened—had Jesus not turned to him in that moment.

As we celebrate Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, may we, too, remember that every person we encounter needs Christ! Be they repulsive (such as thieves) or friendly, they need the Gospel.

Let’s not get so caught up in our own burdens or even our own Easter celebrations that we forget the person next to us. Resurrection Sunday means nothing to him if he doesn’t know Christ.

Love your neighbor—share the good news of the Gospel.


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