This morning, I was fascinated by the rich and amazing conversation between a dying sinner and a dying Savior.
When Jesus was crucified, two criminals were also crucified, one on each side of him. At first they both joined in the mocking against him, challenging him to prove he was the Son of God by coming down from the cross, and releasing them as well.
However, one of the criminals had a significant change of heart, and, after a while, presented a request to Jesus. He said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
So, let’s get this straight: Jesus was dying by crucifixion, and this convicted criminal was dying by crucifixion, but the dying criminal asked Jesus to remember him whenever it would be that Jesus came into his kingdom. This meant that he believed Jesus did have a kingdom, that he would come into his kingdom after his death, and that dead criminals might have opportunity to be part of whatever amazing thing Jesus could do for him.
Jesus’ reply to the criminal was, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” In spite of what all the Romans and Religians had declared in nailing Jesus to the cross, and in spite of the fact that Jesus was dying, he declared that the thing he was about to say was the one thing that was true.
Jesus then announced that he would do far more than the dying criminal could have asked or imagined. The man asked Jesus to remember him; Jesus said the man would be with him. The criminal wanted this whenever Jesus would come into his kingdom; Jesus would give it to him that very day. This would be far beyond remembering; it would be a forgiven sinner joining his Savior in Paradise.
What stood out to me so strongly this morning was that this was not only a wonderful gift to a dying man, that he could experience salvation right on the doorstep of eternity. It was also an amazing gift from God the Father to God the Son.
You see, Jesus had said that he did nothing by himself, but only what he saw his Father doing. This meant that, even as Jesus was suffering for the sins of his people, becoming a curse for us who were under the curse of death, he recognized that his Father was then and there blessing him with a BROTHER!!! Right there, in front of that whole crowd of animosity, Jesus was not ashamed to call this man his brother. Jesus statement to the man was one thing to the man, but to every onlooker it was a declaration of, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners! He was now laying down his life as the atonement and propitiation for our sins. He was in the midst of suffering death, the curse of sin. And, in the midst of his work to save sinners, the Father blessed him with this wonderful gift, the saving of a sinner!!!
What this did for me was raise my heart in another expression of praise that, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”It belongs to the Triune God now; it belongs to them forever; and it belonged to them even while Jesus was in the midst of securing our salvation through his death. Even then, God ruled from his throne and snatched a sinner from the certain condemnation for his sin.
While so many ominous things are going on in our world, all consistent with what God said would happen as the world, the flesh, and the devil, escalate their wicked pursuits, God continues to declare to us that, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”And, to encourage us in this, especially when Satan’s work on earth is so prominent, he gives us the picture of the great multitude in heaven on one side, and a poor, dying criminal on the other.
© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)