Lessons from a Criminal

This morning I was reading Luke 23, and the part that stood out to me most was the exchange between Jesus and the criminals being crucified next to Him.

After one of the criminals mocked Jesus, the other responded with a profound observation (one I hadn’t noticed before).  He recognizes that his punishment is deserved, but that Jesus has done nothing wrong.  From the least likely candidate comes the astonishing admission of his own guilt in contrast with Christ’s guiltlessness.  With a simple statement it becomes apparent that this man understands both who he is and who Jesus is.

His last recorded words are addressed to Jesus – words that amaze me.  “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”  He doesn’t ask for anything.  He doesn’t assume that there is a place for Him in Jesus’ kingdom.  With humility he makes his final request – remember me.

Jesus’ tender response to this man’s apparent faith is striking.  Rather than granting his request, Jesus offers something better.  “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.”

This man deserves death and knows it, recognizes Jesus as blameless, and doesn’t think he has a shot at heaven.  His honest self-evaluation leads him to an accurate conclusion to which Jesus responds with unbelievable grace.

I never expected to be inspired by a criminal this morning, but his response to Jesus is, quite honestly, far more appropriate than my usual response.  May we have eyes to see our sin clearly enough to eliminate any sense of entitlement and may we, like the man on the cross, be captivated by the sinlessness of our Savior.

-Abbey Le Roy

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