On Good Friday we remember the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. All four gospels confirm that Jesus was crucified between two thieves. One robber was on His right and the other was on His left (Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27; Luke 23:33; John 19:33). Initially, both criminals mocked Jesus. While hanging on his cross, one of the robbers had a change of heart. Luke records the episode with these words:
Jesus, Remember Me
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? 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, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:39-42).
Not Ready to Die
As Jesus hung on the cross, no one in history had a better view of His compassion and suffering than these two criminals. Both men heard what the angry crowd thought of Jesus. Both men watched Jesus extend forgiveness to Roman soldiers. Both men were able to speak directly to Jesus during their final hours on earth.
In the midst of this chaos, somehow the second thief came to terms with his personal failure, the punishment he deserved, and the reality that he was not ready to die. He courageously ignored the response of others and opened his heart to Jesus. With his last ounce of strength, he confessed his sin, affirmed Jesus' innocence and humbly asked Jesus to remember him in the future.
The Need for Jesus
Jesus saved this broken man immediately and completely – by grace. The thief didn't deserve it and there was no time to earn it. His salvation was personally guaranteed by a simple promise – "today you will be with me in paradise." It is easy to see three striking differences between these two men: One thief recognized his need for Jesus, the other didn't. One thief looked to Jesus for help, the other didn't. One thief received an eternal reward, the other didn't.
We are all like these two thieves – we’ve all done things we regret. The personal question for us is, “Which thief are you?” Are you the one that ridiculed – or the one that sought God’s mercy? Is today your day of salvation? Respond to His voice right now. God Himself has brought you to this moment. Open the door of your heart and ask Jesus to come in. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. It might help you to echo this prayer in your heart:
Come into My Heart
Jesus, like the thief on the cross, I'm not ready to die. I admit that I have gone my own way. I have sinned against you and need your forgiveness. I am sorry for my sins. I want to start over. I want to change. I know that you are the Son of God. I believe that you died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the dead. Thank you for your great love.
Right now, I open the door. Come in Lord Jesus. Come in as my Savior and forgive me. Come in as my Lord and take over. I want to be saved. I want a relationship with you. Come into my life today and give me a fresh start. Thank you for hearing the cry of my heart. Amen.
Author:Paul Schlieker www.bible-study-lesson-plans.com
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