One of the criminals on a cross began to shout insults at Jesus: “Aren’t you the Christ? Then save yourself and us.” But the other criminal stopped him and said, “You should fear God! You are getting the same punishment he is. We are punished justly, getting what we deserve for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” - Luke 23:39-43
There were three men on three different crosses the day Jesus was crucified. One was Jesus and the other two were criminals. The Bible refers to the other two as criminals, robbers, and thieves. They were on each side of Jesus when He was being crucified because they were being punished for the crimes they had committed. Jesus did not deserve to be sentenced to death because He never sinned or did anything wrong.
One of the criminals next to Jesus was made right with God that day. He was made right with God by fearing God, admitting he was a sinner and by accepting the punishment he deserved for his crimes. He also recognized Jesus as king and humbly asked Jesus to be merciful to him. The criminal asked Jesus to show him mercy by remembering him when Jesus died and went into His kingdom. Jesus promised the criminal that he would be with Him in paradise too.
The other criminal mocked Jesus. He only saw Jesus as a way to avoid being crucified. The criminal may have known who Jesus was but did not ask for forgiveness and was not truly sorry for what he did. He never showed any feelings of guilt, remorse, or humility like the other criminal.
Like the unrepentant criminal, if we are not sorry for the wrong we have done, then God will not forgive us. If we are like the criminal who was humble, had repented, confessed Jesus as king, and feared God then we will be made right with God. These scripture verses also show it is never too late for anyone to be saved no matter what they have done.
Prayer of the day:
Dear heavenly Father,
You are full of mercy to allow one of the criminals to be saved. All he had to do is fear You, be humble, confess his sin, be remorseful and believe Jesus was king. According to Jesus, the criminal is with You in Your kingdom. Thank you for the hope You bring to those who want to repent and be saved because it is never too late. All we must do is fear You, be humble, ask for forgiveness, be remorseful and recognize Jesus as Lord. Please help us to stay focused on You. We want to be made right with You. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!