Reading: Luke 23:39-43
One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” [NASB1995®]
Is there anything more amazing and wonderful than God’s grace in the gospel?
Let’s look at this scene. On the cross in the middle is Jesus, the holy and innocent. On both sides of Him are two wrongdoers. The Bible is clear about this: both of them were guilty people.
They were not rebels against Roman tyranny or anything else that made their punishment seem unjust. They were criminals, and according to the laws of that time they had to die.
One of these criminals joins the chorus of mockery of the soldiers and religious leaders. “Are you not the Christ? Why don’t you save yourself, and us too?” Perhaps he would like Jesus to come down from the cross; he would like to escape death. He doesn’t want to be there; he wishes that he hadn’t been caught. He is unaware that He who is being crucified at his side endures it voluntarily.
The other wrongdoer rebukes him. “What are you saying? Are you not afraid of God? We are guilty, but he is innocent.” He somehow recognizes his evil and that he is next to the One who does not deserve to die. On that cross, a few minutes from his death, God is working in his heart, which makes him look at Jesus with other eyes, and ask,“Lord, remember me in your kingdom.”
And Jesus gives the answer that continues to surprise everyone. “Today you will be with me in paradise.” That is the wonder of God’s grace in Jesus. This wrongdoer enters the Kingdom of Heaven. What did he do to deserve it? Nothing, absolutely nothing. But he could put his gaze on the One who does everything: Jesus.
That’s the Gospel: recognizing ourselves as incapable and insufficient and resting in his perfect work.
We don’t need anything else…
MEDITATE: Where do we put our trust and find our rest? Do we remember each day that He is enough, that everything depends on Him?
Scripture quotation taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Translation By: Emily Stader