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.”
Scripture: Luke 23: 32-43
On that hill that day there were three crosses. Jesus was crucified on the center cross and two other crosses flanked that cross on the left and right sides. In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark the two men crucified along with Jesus are identified as “bandits.” In the Gospel of Luke, they are identified as “criminals.” In the Gospel of John, they are mentioned only as “two others.” In the Gospel of Luke alone, we do discover that one of the criminals is repentant, which is in accord with forgiveness and mercy that are dominant themes in this gospel.
On that hill that day there were three crosses. Jesus was hanging on the center cross and these two other criminals were hanged on the left and right sides of Jesus. One derided Jesus and bid Jesus if he were the Messiah to save them. The other criminal seemingly recognizes the errors of his ways and realizes that he will stand before another judge. He knows he is guilty, and he also recognizes Jesus as being innocent. The repentant criminal speaks to Jesus saying, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
Jesus’ response is: “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” That criminal was not expecting to be saved from death on that cross. That criminal was given hope. That criminal was kingdom bound, regardless of whatever he crimes/sins he had committed.
Of this text, a wise Puritan has written: “We have one account of a deathbed repentance in order that no man need despair; we have only one that no man may presume.” Placing one’s faith in Jesus Christ and repenting of one’s sins is how we receive forgiveness of our sins and become heirs of eternal life. The time to respond to God’s grace and mercy is today … now! Don’t put that off until tomorrow for that day is not guaranteed to us. We have only today … this very moment. The repentant criminal recognized that opportunity and seized it.
O God, we thank You for this precious story of the repentant criminal who was crucified alongside of Jesus. We thank You that he sought forgiveness and longed to be part of Jesus’ kingdom. What a gift our Savior gave him … reassuring him that he would be with Jesus in Paradise that very day. That same gift is appropriated by all who accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.