Read Luke 23-24
Highlight: Luke 23:39-43
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? 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, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
This passage of Luke 23 makes a comparison of two world views. We see a profound difference between them.
When Jesus and the two criminals were hanging on the crosses, Jews, Romans and rebels were mocking and taunting Jesus. The first rebel echoes the crowd by saying to Jesus, “If you are the messiah, save yourself and us.” He makes a selfish appeal to escape judgment. He shows he does not understand Jesus. Where is he today?
At the end, the second rebel admits they have been judged and fairly punished for their crimes. He also acknowledges God and correctly states that Jesus has done nothing wrong. He knows that Jesus has a different purpose for being there. Finally, he asks Jesus to remember him in heaven.
Jesus rewards him immediately because the rebel demonstrates faith and understanding at the last moments of his life. Jesus says, “I will see you in heaven, today.” We know where he is today.
Can we apply this to our lives now? How should I think and live to know where I am going when I die? Am I distinctly like one of the two rebels?
How can I start now, during Lent, to devote myself to better understand that Jesus died for, and rewards believers?
Can I do something small for someone today so I can make a habit of right thinking and right actions?
Jesus gives himself completely to us, then and now, because he loves us! Do we need anything more?
God of all grace, make me aware that I am unworthy of your love and how much I need to repent. Thank you for Jesus’ work on the cross, for he has erased the wrongs I have done and points me to a new future through faith in him. Keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, Lord, and he will lead me home to you at the end of my days. Amen.