It is common to have regrets in life. Oftentimes, these regrets involve decisions that are life-altering. Something that you did or said years ago rippled into the future with devastating effects. It might be a financial. It might be family-related. And you find yourself mulling that decision over in your mind again and again wondering what your life would be like today if you had only made a different choice.
Easter is a time of new beginnings. It is a time when we can experience erased guilt. It is a season where we can start over with hope.
One of the most powerful examples of hope is found in the thief that died next to Jesus. I imagine that he hung there pondering the decisions that led to this moment. We are not certain as to the exact crimes that warranted his execution. However, it was serious enough that he was now being put to death. As his final breaths began to expire, I am confident he wished for a redo in life. He must have thought, “Is this really the ending to my life? Is this the legacy that I am going to be known for? What if I would have simply made a decision not to steal? I could be enjoying freedom.” Regrets must have filled his heart over a poor decision or possibly a life of unwise choices that landed him on a cross.
Yet, as providence would have it, he finds himself next to the only person with the authority to grant him a new beginning. Any other day and his fate would have been sealed. Not this day. In his desperation, he looks over and pleads for mercy. He recognizes the decisions he has made are his. He takes responsibility for them. He doesn’t make excuses. He simply throws himself before God.
That decision to embrace Christ was a life-changer, much more than those ill-fated decisions over the years.
In that moment, Christ grants him a new beginning. He would be with Jesus in heaven.
In that moment, Christ erased his guilt. His crimes would not be held against him.
In that moment, Christ gave him hope. A life of joy and grace awaited him.
Easter is a time where we can find as close to a do over in life as we can get. We don’t have to be bound by past decisions that continue to plague us. We don’t have to live with years of guilt that paralyze us from moving forward. We don’t have to live with despair believing that our best years are over and we will never experience true life. Easter is a time when we can leave all that behind and declare, “It is finished.”