“One of the criminals who were hanged, railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us! But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed, justly, for we are receiving the reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23: 39-43
When I read these verses, the thought that comes to me is which criminal am I? Make no mistake, I am a criminal, condemned for my sins and unable to save myself. Sometimes I, like the first man have expected God to rescue me from all the consequences of sin in my life. If I say I believe in Him, doesn’t He owe it to me? Or shouldn’t He do it to prove Himself to me? I’ll happily be a good follower, if Jesus does His part and makes my life easy and comfortable.
Not the right attitude. I need to accept the fact that I deserve all the problems I’ve created and more. I am indeed a poor, miserable sinner, justly condemned to an eternity of separation from God.
The second thief got it right. He realized that he was only getting what he deserved. He recognized Jesus for who and what He is; the blameless savior of the world. The one who is willing to die so that even if sin (mine and others) causes me to suffer today, I don’t have to suffer eternally.
Isn’t it amazing that all I had to do is recognize my plight and say, “remember me, Lord”? Then I’ll find that He has never forgotten me. The God of the universe has never forgotten me, because I’m one of His children. I’m engraved on the palms of His hand. He’ll welcome me into His kingdom as soon as I ask.
Which one are you?