It’s easily included in my “top one hundred” Bible stories list. It also has an inside track on the top 25. It is a story of a man after my own heart. It is a story that ends with words that I long to hear some day. It is the story of “The Penitent Thief.”
Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Who hasn’t done something wrong in their life? Who can argue with the Apostle Paul as he states that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”? (Romans 3:23) And who, as a follower of Jesus, wouldn’t love to one day be with Jesus in Paradise?
After arguing with another thief on a neighboring cross; after defending the honor of a perfect and forgiving Lord also hanging nearby; one thief uttered the words that could fall from any of our lips —-
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
And what he heard in return is a promise that can be directed to all of us who will one day draw our last earthly breath (Hopefully we will stop and listen)–
“You too will be with me in paradise.”
Lord, let me turn to You, claiming You as my Lord, so that I too will hear Your saving words, and join You one day in Paradise. Amen.