Written by cycleguy on March 14th, 2013


It is not unusual to read a book/magazine, watch a TV show, or hear someone speak of a “hardened” criminal.   That description is used to describe someone who is jaded, desensitized, and/or usually practiced in criminal activity.   While looking for a definition for “hardened criminal” I came across an article on a 13 year old who is being branded as one.   All I can say is “Ay-yi-yi!”  (spelling dubious).  🙂  Hardened criminals are often seen as incorrigible.  Unreachable.  Unchangeable.  ‘Course I am of the belief that no one is until they breathe their last breath.

That, in part, is why we are drawn to the thief on the cross.  We like the idea that he was near the end of his (miserable) life and one word from Jesus changed everything.  Let’s face it: unless you are really, really, really (did I say really) unique, we have all done things we would just as soon forget.  It was a big thing among bloggers a couple of years ago to write letters to their younger self.  Australian blogger, Rodney Olsen, took a unique approach this past week to that.  I followed suit in my comment with a much shorter one.   “If I had to do it all over again…” can easily become the moniker of many of us.  There are many things I would do differently that’s for sure.  But one thing I do know is this;


And man am I glad!  That doesn’t give me a license to sin.  This Scripture says so.  I am one of the blessed ones-I came to know Jesus early.  But what about those whose whole life has been about lying, cheating, stealing, murder, war, mockery, and various other “qualities?”  Take, for example, the two characters I will be dealing with this Sunday in my series “Reclaimed.”



Both hardened, but in different ways.  One hardened by his evil life; the other hardened by his military life.  One by his sinful choices; the other by his life choice.  The centurion may have been a more honorable man than the thief, but they both needed the Savior.  They both realized they were in the presence of majesty.  One found peace and promise at death; the other found truth at death (Someone else’s).

What matters is not how hardened someone’s life is at death.  What truly matters is how hardened someone’s heart is at death.  I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, it is never too late for salvation…except when that last breath is breathed.  Thief on the cross. Roman centurion. Bill.  No matter.  The ground is level at the foot of the cross.  Just don’t come with a hardened heart.

I’d appreciate your prayers for Sunday.  Have any thoughts you would like to share on this topic? 

Thanks to Dan for the banner.


27 Comments so far ↓

  1. Daniel says:

    The Centurion is an interesting person in the Bible. It seems that he understood Jesus’ “action at a distance” power. It is like he realized that Jesus’ power covered the world and that He did not have to physically be in contact with folks to heal them. Did any other Biblical person understand this?

  2. The only people hardened past the point of no return have been hardened.

    • cycleguy says:

      True. I suspect there are those whose hearts have been so hardened they will not listen. But I also wonder if I can truly know that. I don’t have the answer to that.

  3. the Old Adam says:

    The Centurion blew Jesus’ mind.

    What faith! “You don’t need to come…just say the word…I’ll know that is is done.”

    Man…if I could have 1/100th of that sort of faith.

  4. Mistakes in the 80’s? I’m STILL making them…OFTEN. Large, small, you name it. Sometimes I walk five feet away and think….I’ve done it again. I actually have thanked God for the Bible stories of those who messed up, repeatedly, and still found His grace and forgiveness.

    That is what makes the upcoming observance of the resurrection such a treasure to me. His grace and forgiveness of me….of ME! I’m not so sure I’d have done the same for me.

    I’m not hardened in that manner but greatly in need of His saving grace nonetheless.

    • cycleguy says:

      It is good to hear from you again MS. I can so relate to your comment-the whole comment. I am so thankful for that saving grace.

  5. Dan Erickson says:

    I think God can soften even the most hardened.

  6. We tend to think others are hopelessly hardened, but that we never are. I am committed to trying to see people through Jesus’ eyes. Watch the movie Genius online and see what looks like a hardened guy crying tears of repentance. Blessings on your message, Bill.

  7. floyd says:

    God goes to what seems like harsh extremes to save the ones He loves. Tough times aren’t all about discipline, they are about true love and getting our attention.

    My last manuscript “The Blood And The Cross” is about the Roman Centurion and how God uses Him after the death of Christ. I love God’s stories of mercy and redemption…. because we are all one of those stories…

    • cycleguy says:

      he certainly went through harsh extremes with Jesus on the cross. As you say, he also uses tough times to draw us to Him. Manuscript sounds interesting Floyd. His was definitely a story of mercy.

  8. Ike says:

    There is no human depth he cannot redeem… if we will cry out to God in Christ as our only hope.

  9. Debbie says:

    I loved this, and also believe that we all have until our last breath, to come to Him. Kind of counting on that, for some loved ones! 🙂
    Also, my own heart gets hard in areas, and He softens it again . .you reminded me to pray this as a prayer today .. thank you!
    God bless you and praying now for God to soften hearts through you on Sunday!

    • cycleguy says:

      When loved ones are involved we do hold on to the faith they will repent. You also have the right idea about praying for His softening. Thanks so much Deb for your prayers.

  10. Ben Nelson says:

    Oh – That Centurion. I was with your other commentators till i checked the link and saw who you were talking about.

    This is really good Pastor Bill.

    It almost seem what may have impacted the Centurion was the random resurrections as much as Jesus’ death. Sometimes I try to picture what that must have been like. This is a part of the passion story we don’t hear told often.

    I am with you on the last breath point – and no one is too hardened for the Jesus to break up that fallow ground and plant eternal seeds (through us.)

    I pray even now that He would be working on hard hearts that will be in your congregation Sunday to have the word planted.

    Bring it ON!

    • cycleguy says:

      You have a good idea here Ben that I might expand on. It wasn’t just the crucifixion that got to the centurion. It was, I think, all the events. The crucifixion. The calmness in death. The earthquake. The weather. All combined makes for an interesting attention-getter. Thanks for your prayers.

  11. Caleb says:

    In the end, we enter eternity broke and broken. No cash, no Lexus, no staus symbols, no creature comforts, not even the clothes on our back. And hopefully, we leave this world broken – truly realizing our need for a Savior. Nothing to hang our hat on, no one to sing our praises, and nothing to boast about. Completely relying on the mercy of One who loves us and paid the price for us!

    • cycleguy says:

      Very well put Caleb. I like your thoughts about being broke and broken. Def not something we can hang our hat on. The mercy and grace of God is all we have. Thanks for coming by my friend. Least I know you haven’t totally forgotten us folk from Indiana. 🙂

  12. Ivan says:


    My favourite characters in the New Testament (apart from Jesus) are that second thief on the cross, Judas (the only person Jesus ever calls “friend”), and the woman at Luke 7:37.

    (hello again, btw, long time no read;)


  13. The thief on the cross is one of the greatest stories in scripture! Because it shows us that salvation can be so immediate and so much due to grace. That guy had nothing to offer and no life left to live. It was just pure grace.