One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Three men hung on three crosses. Jesus hung on the middle cross, with a criminal on each side. Two men had earned their way to the cross. They were paying the debt of their personal sin. Jesus was there voluntarily, paying the debt of the world’s sin.
One criminal was bitter to the end. He mocked Jesus even in his pain. “Aren’t you the Messiah?” he jeered, “Save yourself and us!” The second criminal rebuked the first for his arrogance. He acknowledged that Jesus had done nothing wrong and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus promised the man that he would see Jesus that day in heaven!
The gift of grace comes with no strings attached. It is not earned or deserved. The remorseful criminal could not work his way to God. He couldn’t somehow demonstrate his worth with his last hours on the cross. He was dying the death he deserved. But his trust in Jesus changed everything. The work of Jesus on the cross was applied to this condemned man. All his sin was laid on Jesus, and he passed from death to life. Such is the power of grace. Such is the fullness of forgiveness.
Father, allow me to grasp the power of Your grace. Let the redeemed criminal teach me that Your forgiveness is available, free, and full. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This Week on The Journey Broadcast: