By Darrin Stafford
THEN HE SAID, “JESUS, REMEMBER ME WHEN YOU COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM.” [LUKE 23:42]
This passage in Luke is referencing one of the two criminals who were hanging on crosses next to Jesus, asking Jesus to remember him in His kingdom. This verse shows the extent to which Jesus is willing to forgive ALL of us, if only we are willing to humble ourselves, ask for His forgiveness and accept Him into our lives.
But there is so much more to this scene, especially the verses before it and after it. Reading verses 39-43 you find that there are two criminals on crosses next to Jesus. To me, each criminal represents the two vastly different examples of this world in which we live. The first criminal mocks Jesus. And tells Him that if he truly is who He claims to be, why doesn’t He save himself and the others with Him? The other criminal realizes that he is getting just punishment for his crimes and accepts his demise. He also believes that Jesus is who He claims to be and feels that Jesus is not deserving of being crucified. He humbly asks Jesus to remember him in heaven. Jesus tells him that He will and that they will be together in heaven.
As I mentioned earlier, I think this illustration represents what we see in the world today. Many people are like the first criminal with hardened hearts, close-minds, and unrepentant of their sins. They go out of their way to dismiss the bible and its teachings, looking for satisfaction in life through material things. The second criminal represents those that truly seek Jesus and His gift of grace and forgiveness. They are people that understand they are not perfect and that they are sinners. It also illustrates that no matter the crime or situation, everyone is able to receive forgiveness and the opportunity to spend eternity with Jesus in heaven.
What Luke 23:42 really boils down to is the unconditional love, grace and forgiveness that can be given to anyone who will humble themselves. Understanding, that we are all sinners and that we can only receive forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross. It also shows that even in the final moments of one’s life that a truly repentant person can be forgiven and saved by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
Have you really grasped the magnitude of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross? Which criminal are you? Have you humbled yourself and accepted the grace and forgiveness that Jesus offers to all of us?
Jesus, I pray that I never lose sight of your sacrifice and the grace that you so freely give to all those who come to you. May I never forget that you paid the ultimate sacrifice for all.