August 29, 2021
This week’s reading was from Luke 19-24. It was difficult to choose what to discuss because all of the reading was so exciting and important. Jesus came to this earth to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He did this by dying on a cross to save us from our sins so we would live in eternity with Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
These chapters give us more detail about the events. They show how Jesus was betrayed by one of the disciples, was arrested, crucified on a cross for a crime he did not commit, and was raised from the dead. All of this fulfilling prophesy from the Old Testament (Isa 53). Wow!
During the crucifixion of Jesus there was a remarkable transaction between Jesus and a criminal hanging on a cross next to him. That transaction is what our discussion will be about this week.
The reading is from Luke 23:32-43. I also added a verse from Matthew.
Jesus was an innocent man. Even Herod and Pilate believed he committed no crime deserving of death. But because the chief priests and the crowd were so insistent that he be killed, Pilate granted the demand.
Jesus was not alone in the crucifixion. There were two criminals with him, one on the right and one on the left. In Mark 15:27, we learn that these criminals were “robbers.”
Throughout his gruesome crucifixion, Jesus was mocked by soldiers, Jewish leaders, the crowd, and the robbers next to him (Matthew 27:44). Even with the torture Jesus endured throughout the crucifixion, he stated, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:39-40 states, “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.”
Let’s dive into this a bit more.
First, something caused one of the criminals to change his mind about Jesus. In Matthew both the criminals mocked Jesus, but we see in Luke one robber changes his thinking. Was it because while Jesus was experiencing torture, he asked God to forgive others? We are not sure. What we do know is the robber was humbled, changed his thinking, and stated to the other criminal, “Don’t you fear God?”, and then went on to say that he and the robber deserved to be crucified, but Jesus was innocent. Then he asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom. Jesus told him that today, he would be with Jesus in paradise.
Think about it. This robber was the first “born again’ Christian. Once the robber died, he was with Jesus in paradise, who after his death sat at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2). This is a beautiful story of the grace of Jesus Christ. The criminal recognizes that he is a sinner by stating that “we deserve to die for our crimes.” Then he states that Jesus is righteous by saying he was innocent. He asked Jesus to remember him in his Kingdom. Lastly, he lives in eternity with Jesus in paradise.
This story reflects the grace Jesus has for all of us. Let me explain.
- We all are sinners. What is a sinner? According to the Bible it is someone who “misses the mark.” A sinner misses God’s mark. It also means someone who does not obey God’s law. We may not be a criminal, but when we compare ourselves to a perfect God, we all fall short of that perfection. It doesn’t matter if that imperfection is something seen like the criminal, or something not seen, like lust or envy. Romans 3:10 says, “No one is righteous-not even one.” We must recognize that we are sinners, just like the criminal did on the cross and confess that sin to Jesus.
- We all have a choice about Jesus, just like these two criminals. One accepted Jesus and the other rejected Him. We can believe in Him and accept Him, or reject Him. One criminal was going to be in eternity with God (paradise), the other was going to be without God. John 1:12 says, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” We need to believe and accept that Jesus is the Christ.
It is important to recognize that the criminal did not have “to do” anything to live in paradise with Jesus. He didn’t have to be a better person first or work his way into heaven. He didn’t have time. He was about to die when he spoke those words to Jesus. This shows that salvation (living with Jesus in paradise) is not about works, but about the free gift Jesus gives us if we believe and receive.
Jesus offers this free gift to you too. Would you like to accept it?
- Have you recognized that you have sinned? Have you asked God for forgiveness?
- Have you made the choice to believe and accept Jesus? If you have not and want to do this, please let me know. I would love to pray for you. If you have any questions about God’s forgiveness and free gift, please let me know.
- If you are still unsure about any of this or have questions, please do not feel pressured. Pray for guidance, and God will answer. Luke 11:10 says “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
- Do you have any questions?
I will be praying for you this week. Let me know of any specific prayers you may have.
Next weeks reading will be: Acts 1-8.
My favorite song titled “The Thief” by Third Day. Enjoy!