Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed …
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? 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, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:32, 39–43)
In these few verses, we see all the steps necessary for our eternal salvation. Here are a few truths I see in the conversation between Jesus and the second criminal on the cross:
- The criminal actually feared God. He shows this by not insulting Jesus nor blaspheming or reviling Him, but by turning to Him.
- The criminal was aware of his own sin and his inability to save himself.
- The criminal realized that his sin had to be punished.
- The criminal realized Jesus was without sin.
- The criminal also realized Jesus was going to another kingdom.
- The criminal asked Jesus to remember him in His kingdom.
- The criminal actually rebuked the other criminal.
- The criminal is with Jesus in paradise and has been since that day.
Maintaining a confidence in Jesus, committing his way to Him, expecting help from Him, rejoicing in the hope of being with Him forever, the criminal on the cross sets for us a good example.
Do we maintain such a confidence in Jesus? Have we committed our way to the One who is more than sufficient to meet our every need? Do we expect Jesus to grant us the grace to accomplish whatever He allows into our lives with contentment, peace, and joy?
Paul reminds us of the source of his supernatural strength when he proclaims:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11–13)
Finally, do we rejoice in the hope of being with Him forever–holding fast in confidence to our future eternal bliss? Jesus desires for us to be encouraged and strengthened by this truth. Just as He told His first disciples, He tells us:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1–3)
Take It to Heart
“Nothing can harm us, including death, when we have trusted Christ as Savior, because Christ has conquered death–and so shall we.” (Billy Graham)