“Two others, both criminals, were taken along with [Jesus] for execution. When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left”
(Luke 23:32-33, The Message)
Reading this text, I’m amazed at Jesus even more today. Jesus was crucified between two criminals. Right at the end of his earthly life he was still among sinners, the people he had come to save. One of them asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom. He said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Like many repented-sinners before him, this one criminal turned to Jesus in his hour of need.
The other criminal cursed Jesus, this one turned to Jesus, acknowledge his deserved punishment and come to Jesus in his need. I think he wasn’t sure precisely what he was asking. He didn’t use theological language or set form of words or recites the Sinner’s Prayer. He simply put his trust in Jesus because he knew that Jesus was sinless and perhaps he believes that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God in human flesh and that Jesus could truly help him. At this point, even if he was not so sure about who Jesus really is (as I assumed he did), he knew that Jesus is unique and that God is truly with him. And so, he somewhat have faith in Jesus.
Ah, amazing thing happen when we put our faith in Jesus. The forgiving Son of God, dying on the cross, promised that the criminal would be with him in paradise, that very day. Jesus replied to him, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise” (Luke 23:43, The Message). There was no conditions. Jesus received the criminal exactly as he was, and Jesus promised him more than he asked for, more than he hoped for, and far more than he expected. This is God: It’s never too late for come to him and ask for forgiveness. In Jesus, God is always ready to forgive us. What happened to the criminal on the cross who have faith (as little as it may seem) in Jesus can happen to us too. It’s no different for us today. Jesus is truly amazing!
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.