The Story of Two Criminals: An Evangelistic Conversation
I’m still figuring out how to share the gospel in such a way that it will only take a few minutes. I wanted to take time in sharing the gospel and make it clear to the person I’m sharing it with. However, taking the time is not possible at all times, especially when doing random evangelism.
So I thought of sharing the story of the two criminals crucified alongside Jesus. Since we live in a pre-dominantly Catholic society, we may find people who are already familiar with the story. Just yesterday, I tried sharing the story with some random students in my school. Although I would say that the conversations went well, I still want to improve and determine it’s effectiveness (I’m open to suggestions). Here’s how it goes:
The Bible tells us of two criminals who were crucified alongside Jesus:
39One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-42)
What’s intriguing here is that the second criminal will join Jesus in Paradise. Again, he was a criminal. That’s why he was crucified at the first place. And crucifixion are for the worst of criminals. But looking back at the passage, we will notice the following:
1. He acknowledged that Jesus is God. He said to the other criminal, “Do you not fear God.” This is crucial. Because Jesus is God, then it only means that He loves us. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
2. He acknowledged that Jesus is innocent. He claimed that Jesus “had done nothing wrong.” In contrast to Jesus innocence, he acknowledged his sinfulness, saying that he was “under the same sentence of condemnation.” Furthermore, he said that he deserved it, for he is “receiving the due rewards of [his] deeds.” Likewise, every person has sinned (Romans 3:23) and deserves punishment (Romans 6:23, Revelation 21:8). Every act of sin is a rebellion towards God (Psalm 51:4) and so we are in need of His forgiveness. Forgiveness is only possible because of Jesus’ innocence, because it is only through His innocence can we be made right before God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
3. He acknowledged that Jesus is king. He told Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Because Jesus is king, He deserved all the worship, honor, glory, and praise from us. He deserved our allegiance.
4. He acknowledged these things about Jesus by faith. Notice that he did not need to do anything in order to save himself (obviously, the cross did not permit him to do anything), but place his faith on Jesus. Likewise, we can only be saved by grace through faith, and not by any form of good works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Again, he acknowledged that Jesus is God and that He loves him. He also acknowledge his sinfulness. But by the innocence of Jesus, he can be forgiven and be made right with God. He also acknowledged that He is king. And He believe these about Jesus by placing His faith on Him.
Now, if you would like to be assured of your eternity, then pray this prayer:
Lord Jesus. You are God and that You love me. I acknowledge my sinfulness, and that I have sinned against You and You only. But I thank You because by your innocence, by dying on the cross, I can be made right with God. So I accept Your forgiveness. I also acknowledge You as king. So I place my faith in Your hands, and I will follow you for the rest of my life. In Your Name I pray, Amen.