Today, I’m reminded of the criminals who hung close on the left and right sides of Jesus. The other hurled insults saying, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
What if he turned both statements into questions, instead of one? In other words, “Aren’t you the Messiah? How can you save us?” He could have received an honest answer.
The fact is, he is too close to Jesus and yet too far.
If only he asked the most important question in life. “How can you save us?” Let me share in three simple steps through the same story.
1. Hope in God.
Most likely, both of the criminals hear of the Messiah in the Jewish tradition or perhaps they only knew about it when they came face to face with Jesus.
However, when the other criminal heard the insulting remark of the other one, he rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God, 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.”
This criminal has had a change of heart. He accepted the fact that after due process under the law of the land, they were punished and deserved the death sentence. Spiritually speaking, he recognized his wrong ways in the face of the Savior.
Have you in one way or another acknowledged that you have sinned or wronged God and that there is a coming judgment where you will receive what you deserve? If you are positive about it, there is hope for you.
2. Have Faith In Christ.
Actually, it is the choice of the other criminal to refuse to believe in Jesus. But for the other one, he prayed and confessed, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
The thief already acknowledged that he is a sinful person. But he turned to Jesus for the hope of heaven. Remember, does he have time to do good works on which most people think they can earn God’s paradise?
The fact is, the thief only have faith in Jesus. No good works, no religion, no local church, no self-belief, no baptism, no hope or faith in anything else, except the Savior.
How about you? Are you clinging on to something you have to save yourself? Or you completely trust in Jesus for your personal salvation?
3. Hold On To His Promise.
The repentant thief placed his trust on Jesus, the Messiah and the Savior of the world. Muslims call him Isa Al Masi (“Masi” means “Messiah”). This is a unique title no prophets in the Quran is referred to as “Messiah.”
Then, Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus promised paradise to those who trusted in Him for their salvation.
Unfortunately, this is not the paradise-harem of manifold virgins for sexual gratification given to criminals who terrorized innocent ones, especially the Christians and Jewish people.
The truth is, this heavenly place is where God is, not of the sexual deviants. For every hope in the afterlife is based upon the promise of that someone, but in this case, of Jesus Christ. It’s where the nature of the one who promised is of the essence.
Can you trust the promise of the sinless one who was born of a virgin, whose name is Jesus, the savior of the world? If you have the God-given faith, this means a lot to you.
Have you noticed that this repentant person is nameless? You could put your name here. “Today, you, __________________, will be with me in paradise.”
If you fully trust Jesus today, from this very moment until your last breath here on earth, you will spend eternity with Christ.
Have a blessed Lenten Season, my friend.
Glenn Plastina (c) 2017