There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Here are two guys, both criminals under the same sentence, hanging on each side of Jesus. They are both going to die. They both need a Savior. The difference between them is their posture. The first, in spite of his current situation, is demanding and disrespectful. The second is humble and needy. He sees how things really are: Jesus is righteous and innocent. They are guilty of sin and deserve this crucifixion. His request comes from this humble heart. James wrote, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” God responds to people who understand clearly where they find themselves. It is those who are ‘poor in spirit’ and know their need for a Savior that God extends immense amounts of grace. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” He is the Son of God. He can save whomever He wants! That thief on the cross is as deserving of salvation as any of us… he wasn’t deserving! Salvation is God extending grace to sinners.
The two men represent all of us. All of humanity is under the same sentence. We deserve death. They represent the two choices people make when it comes to the cross. Salvation comes by the grace of God to those who know they deserve nothing, but humbly admit that Jesus was a righteous man who died a wrongful death… a death He died for us!
Every person I see need God’s grace. We are under the same sentence! Whenever pride comes (in any of its various expressions) I need to follow the example of the second criminal. ‘Nothing do I bring, only to the cross of Christ I cling!’ Salvation comes by God’s grace.
Father, I know full well my need for You and Your grace. Thank You for giving Your Son to be my Savior. He was the King of the Jews… and is the King of the universe! Salvation comes as You extend grace. Grace me this day as I live for You. May people see Jesus in me is my prayer.