‘And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”’ Luke 23:42-43
We don’t know his name. We’re never told how old he was, what his favorite food was, where he grew up, how many siblings he had, what he did for a living – all we know is that he was bad. He was possibly coined a bad seed or the black sheep of his family. His rebellious and careless lifestyle had led him to one destination: a cross. Crucifixion was saved for the worst of the worst and he, along with one other, “happened” to be crucified by Christ on the same day of His earthly death.
Originally, he mocked and scorned Jesus like the other criminal, told to us by Matthew and Mark. The Greek word blasphemo is used, showing how strong and condescending their words were against Jesus. Somewhere along the way, one of them had a change of heart. Was it because of something he did? Absolutely not. Was there any way for this man to save himself? Of course not, because his hands and feet were nailed to a cross, as were Jesus’ and the other man. In the final moments of his life, once destined for hell, the unknown man connected the dots and acknowledged that the punishment he received was worthy and just. Because of this, he asked Jesus to remember him. He didn’t ask for money, for a way out, for an entire new life void of all the mistakes he had made getting him here – no, all he asked for was to be remembered, because in that moment he knew Jesus represented something greater. Jesus represented an eternal kingdom that far surpassed and outweighed everything else man does to distract himself. He knew that Jesus was the only “way, truth, and life.” Jesus calmly tells him, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Jesus speaks the most reassuring words anyone could ever ask for – Jesus was mindful of him and his eternal whereabouts (Psalm 8).
The “Thief on the Cross” as we often call him needs a new nickname: Calvary’s Convert. Let’s focus more on what Jesus did (conversion) instead of what the man did in his life. Despite all his past mistakes, the grace of God was ENOUGH for this man. This is not a “last chance” story. This is not a “I’ll say I believe in Christ eventually to avoid Hell” story. No, this is a story about how despite all our mistakes and sin that is trying to kill us (Romans 6:23), God’s everlasting grace is sufficient enough for you, if you allow it to be. We often search for “greater” things, only to feel “less” than we did when we started searching. This man didn’t deserve salvation at all, but in his final moments, he realized that he couldn’t come to God on his own terms – he needed to come to God on God’s terms. The other man, the scoffer on the opposite side, claimed that Jesus was the Christ but only wanted a temporary fix! He didn’t want FAITH, only a cure to his 9-1-1 emergency.
God’s Word tells us that if we are genuinely saved believers and have faith in Christ, our thoughts, words, and deeds prove that. People “read” us and look at us a lot more than they do their Bibles – so be a walking, talking Bible for Christ in Natchez, MS. We are what we are because of God’s grace and nothing more. There are 168 hours in a week. We’re wonderful at making excuses, almost professionals, but I challenge you to give at least, dare I say, 2 of those 168 hours to God, your Creator and only source of salvation this week! Because of His Son’s death and resurrection, we long for the days of Paradise with Jesus. That’s all we will forever need: the presence of Jesus in Paradise.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.