The Criminal at the Cross
Read: Luke 23:32-43
When you are gone from this life, there are no second chances in death. I am quickly reminded in Luke 23:42 and 43 of how close unbelievers come to death and are given multiple chances to hear about God. I think how close to death the criminal was who was being crucified beside Jesus. As Jesus was suffering entering death, He was still helpful to the sinner beside Him who cries out to Him, asking to be remembered when Jesus enters His paradise. Jesus, with little breath, said to him that today he would go with Him to paradise.
Paradise for the believer of Jesus is as simple as that: believe in your heart and profess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord of all. Jesus knew the sinner hanging beside Him was a criminal. Jesus did not care about his past; He only cared that he believed. As soon as the criminal confessed that Jesus did nothing to be put to death and asked Him to remember him when he enters His kingdom, Jesus, in turn, forgave the man of whatever life he had lived and took him as His own. Jesus said to him, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” Salvation is ours for the asking—a simple, beautiful love offering from our Lord of all, Jesus.
I find great comfort in the account of the criminal on the cross. I am no different than that criminal; I am the sinner who has asked Jesus, “Remember me in paradise.”
Jesus has answered me, “Come.”
The cross is where God drew the line in the sand on the battlefield of salvation. Come over to Cross and be saved. At the cross, Jesus took on all sin, and evil lost all power over those who believed in Him. It’s the ultimate inspiration for me. Sometimes just touching my cross necklace when I am wearing it calms my mind. Every time I take a flight, I close my eyes and remind Jesus, “Lord, don’t forget me in Your paradise.” I imagine He laughs in response. Either way, I am comforted and given peace by calling on His holy name. I can’t think of Jesus on the cross without seeing the kindness in His heart to the very end.
God parted the Red Sea, made the lame walk, the blind see, the mute able to speak, and the dead rise; this very same God is asking us to enter a relationship with Him today. Now is the time to start the healing of your soul. The Lord wants everyone to have a chance to know Him. In 2 Peter 3:9 it says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Jesus patiently waits.
Through the cross, we now have the choice to be with God. He gives us a choice to choose Him or reject Him and His teachings. In Luke 9:26, the Bible says that if anyone is ashamed of the Word of God, when the Son of God returns, He will be ashamed of him. If we do not choose to follow Him and the teachings of the Bible, we will endure much torment and agony in Hell. Those unsaved souls who reject the God of the Holy Bible will experience pain and suffering beyond belief in the pit of Hell. Jesus said in Matthew 13:49 and 50 that the righteous will be separated from the wicked and thrown into the fire where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. There is no second chance. There is no do over. God is persistently and patiently waiting for us to choose Him.
I couldn’t image what the never-ceasing fiery hell would feel like. But I do know what it feels like to be on fire for the Lord. It’s amazing! The healing of our souls starts when we begin to turn from sin and walk in the light of the Christ. I turned and ran into His arms. I have learned that there is nothing that can be taken from me in this life. It’s all about Him, not me. The only me in the equation is choosing Him. Thanks to the cross, all my value is placed in a healed soul where Jesus lives.
Will you ask Jesus today to remember you in paradise? He can’t wait to hear your voice say this prayer.
Dear God, I confess that I am a sinner, and for that I’m sorry. I need You as my Lord and Savior; I know I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus, Your Son, died on the cross to forgive my sins so that I may have eternal life. I believe on the third day He rose from the grave and conquered death and sin’s hold on me. I turn from doing things my way where I am controlled by my sinful nature. I ask You, Lord Jesus, to forgive me. Make me new. Come into my life and into my heart; lead me in everything I do. I trust You. I love You. I choose to live for You each and every day. Thank You for Your love. And thank You, Jesus, for saving me. Amen.
Jesus, thank you for the cross! Please share this good news with others.