One foot in hell

(Horatius Bonar, "The Three Crosses")

"I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise."
    Luke 23:43

The saved thief is a specimen of what the cross is appointed
to do. Sin abounding, grace super-abounding.

What is yon cross erected for? To save souls!
See, it saves one of the worst; one who had done
nothing but evil all his days!

What does that blood flow for?
To wash away sin!
See, it washes one of the blackest!

What does yon Sufferer die for? To pardon the
guiltiest! Not merely to save from hell, but to open
Paradise to the chief of sinners--to open it at once;
not after years of torment, but "today." Today "with
Me." Yes, Jesus goes back to heaven with a saved
robber at His side! What an efficacy in the cross!
What grace, what glory, what cleansing, what healing,
what blessing--at yonder cross! Even "in weakness"
the Son of God can deliver--can pluck brands from
the burning--can defy and defeat the evil one! Such
is the meaning of the cross! Such is the interpretation
which God puts upon it, by saving that wretched thief.

See how near to hell a man may be--and yet be
That thief, was he not on the very brink of the
burning  lake--one foot in hell; almost set on fire by
hell? Yet he is plucked out! He has done nothing but
evil all his days--down to the very last hour of his life;
yet he is saved. He is just about to step into perdition,
when the hand of the Son of God seizes him and lifts
him to Paradise!

Ah, what grace is here!

What boundless love!

What power to save!

Who after this need despair?

Truly Jesus is mighty to save!

See how near a man may be to Christ--and
yet not be saved.
The other thief is as near the
Savior as his fellow--yet he perishes. From the
very side of Christ--he goes down to hell. From
the very side of his saved fellow--he passes into
damnation. We see the one going up to heaven
--and the other going down to hell.

This is astonishing--and it is fearful!

Oh, what a lesson--what a sermon is here!