If You’re a Mess-Up, Then This is for You
But nothing hits me than this mess-up in the Bible: The criminal on the cross. Now there are two criminals who were crucified with Jesus. I’m referring to the second one, the one who joined Jesus in paradise. We read his story in Luke 22:39-43:
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 is a criminal suffering from the pain and hopelessness brought by crucifixion, which is considered the most horrible form of death. I want to believe that there’s no more hope for this poor fellow. He was a few minutes away from death. He couldn’t make things right anymore. Yet, Jesus promised him that he shall be with Him in paradise (v.43). How did that happen? Let’s examine the text further.
First, he acknowledged the divinity of Jesus (v.40). He rebuked the first criminal with the words, “Don’t you fear God.” The first criminal might also have believed that Jesus is God as seen in his question, “Aren’t you the Christ?” (v.39). The only difference between these two criminals is that the first one just wanted to selfishly save himself from the agony of crucifixion as seen in his words, “Save yourself and us!”
Also, the second criminal acknowledged the just punishment of his sins (v.41a). He admitted that he was a sinner and that he was just getting what his deeds deserved. Third, he acknowledged the innocence of Jesus (v.41b). This is important because only a righteous and sinless man can save a sinner like him from eternal damnation. Jesus fulfilled those requirements. Lastly, he acknowledged the kingship of Jesus (v.42). He didn’t just believed in Jesus as his savior. He also believed that He is Lord and King.
I don’t know how messed-up you are. You might be living a life of sin and regret, just like the criminal on the cross. And maybe you’re tired of it. But don’t lose hope. You don’t have to wait until you’re on your deathbed to make things right. You can start living a new life today! All you need to do is acknowledge your sins before Jesus and that only He can save you, and accept Him as God, Savior, and King of your life. Let this be the prayer of your heart.