Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.
When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left…
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? 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 have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.”
hen he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The second of Jesus’ seven last words are spoken to the penitent thief,
“Truly, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
What prompts Jesus to say these words of hope to a condemned and dying man?
First, the crucified criminal confesses his sinfulness,
“…we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds.”
The other man wants Jesus to save him. Sadly, he is unable or unwilling to take responsibility for his actions.
Penitence is the fist and hardest step to Paradise.
But true penitence is hard.
True penitence is hard because it requires being completely honest with ourselves.
True penitence is standing openly and honestly before God without excuses.
True penitence is standing before Jesus and saying, “Just as I am, without one plea; but that Thou blood was shed for me.”
The penitent thief makes no excuses. He acknowledges his sin. And then he says,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
In the Bible when God remembers, it is not simply bringing something to mind.
When God remembers, God acts to save.
In Genesis God remembers Joseph, languishing in an Egyptian prison, and acts to liberate him.
Four hundred years later in Exodus, God remembers the Hebrews languishing in Egyptian slavery, and liberates them.
When God remembers, God saves.
The penitent thief sees God in Jesus and asks to be remembered. And Jesus promises he will.
The same promise is for everyone willing and able to be penitent.
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Donnie Wilkinson