Inspirations|April 01, 2015 03:06 EDT
'Heaven, How I Got Here' Offers Powerful Easter Narrative of Thief on the Cross' Final Decision to Follow Jesus [REVIEW]
'Heaven, How I Got Here' is a short book that enters into a "What if" tale of the thief on the cross that made the last minute decision to follow Christ. BREATHEcast received a copy of the book earlier this month, and with Easter just days, this is a perfect time to uncover the content of this story.
The book was released on March 2, and is written by Colin S. Smith. He is also known for his daily radio program "Unlocking the Bible."
'Heaven, How I Got Here' reads like a first person narrative of the thief who believed and joined Jesus in paradise. He is writing from the perspective of already being in Heaven, and is now looking back to the day he was crucified along with Jesus.
Obviously the book is a fictional work in terms of the thief's account, although the surrounding story is true. The Bible is pretty vague about the backgrounds of the thieves on the cross, so the book takes liberties to talk about his upbringing, views on God, and how he started a life of crime.
For the Biblical context of the book, there were two others who were nailed to a cross with Jesus at Golgotha. The Bible explains the two others were actual criminals who were being punished for their actions.
Mark 15:26-27 reads, "And with Him they crucify two thieves; the one on His right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'." Further on the passage says the thieves also "hurled insults" at Jesus.
The second reference to the thieves on the cross occurs in Luke 23:32-43, "Two others also, who were criminals, were being led away to be put to death with Him. 33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left...39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, 'Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!' 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, 'Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong'. 42 And he was saying, 'Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!' 43 And He said to him, 'Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise'."
Using these scriptures, Smith paints a beautiful narrative of what thoughts must have been running through the thief's head. He also vividly writes about what the writhing agony and pain must have been like for the three of them. He describes bearing the weight on the nailed feet, and struggling to breathe because of the outstretched arms and all the agony.
Overall the underlying theme of the book is dealing with shame, grief, and guilt and learning to accept forgiveness, even in the last moments of life, and how that's possible through Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross.
Jesus came to save the world through His death, and the first one to walk through the door to Heaven with Him was the thief in this book, who chose to believe at his worst moment.
As Easter comes this Sunday, many families will gather at church or in homes and reflect on the crucifixion and its ultimate meaning. 'Heaven, How I Got Here' is a perfect companion to help understand just how powerful a statement Jesus made on humanity with His death.