Today is Good Friday, the day our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and died. When we read the Gospel accounts of his crucifixion and death, we see many similar elements of the story. Luke, however, tells an interesting story about the two criminals crucified next to Jesus. One of the criminals derides Jesus, like the rest of the crowd. The other criminal, however, has a different reaction. Turning to the criminal deriding Jesus, the other criminal asks, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due regard of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:40–41). This criminal clearly understood something about Jesus. Despite Jesus’s mangled appearance, the criminal knew Jesus was the Messiah, the one who was to come and save the people. Because of who he knew Jesus to be, he called out , “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:43). Then Jesus replies, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Did you catch that? Moments prior to death, the criminal reached out for grace and mercy. He knew he was undeserving of mercy, but he also knew that Jesus was full of mercy. In faith, the criminal cried out to Jesus. The criminal had come to the realization of who Jesus was and knew his only hope of salvation was in Jesus. Yes, he would experience the penalty for his crimes upon the cross, but because of faith, he would experience salvation in Christ. It’s not too late. For some, the criminal was out of time. He was about to die. For Jesus, even at the point of death, he was ready to extend mercy. Jesus’s death on the cross was painful and gruesome but it was an extension of grace and mercy. Today, may we be like the criminal who turned to Jesus. Whether we’ve experienced the grace and mercy of Jesus before or we’re crying out for the first time, may we turn to our crucified Lord and say, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
- Have you trusted in Jesus as the criminal did? If not, what is stopping you from turning to Jesus now and in faith asking for him to save you?
- Who in your life needs the message of Jesus? Share the gospel with them today?
- Is there someone in your life that is like the criminal and seems far from God? Pray for that person, asking the Lord to soften their heart and for them to trust in Jesus for salvation.