32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Are you afraid of death? In the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are so scared not only of death but facing death alone! Jesus was nailed at the cross. The disciples were scattered, with only John, mother Mary, and a few women standing watching from a distance. Jesus endured all the punishment alone and was forsaken by the Father!
This criminal was nailed next to Jesus. He faced death, the sins of his life, the humiliation of people, the bullying of Roman soldiers, and there was no hope at the end of his life. Many people use this example of a crucified criminal to prove that baptism or good works are unnecessary for salvation. Yes, but this criminal’s faith and good deeds far surpassed people’s imagination!
In the darkest moment of all ages, the true God who created the universe was killed by his creature. He was nailed on the cross. The most loving Jesus Christ was rejected, whipped, teased, and crucified. Relatives and friends dared not to approach. No one wanted to be implicated, arrested, and beaten. But Heavenly Father has prepared a companion for his beloved Son to support him to the end. In the darkest hour of the world, this criminal declared faith and hope. He was not afraid of what others thought, and he publicly declared that “this man has done nothing wrong.” His faith saw Jesus coming as a king in his kingdom. When the world lost faith in a dying Jesus, this criminal still believed. When Jesus was at his deadliest moment, this criminal proclaimed hope. He still had faith in Jesus And asked Jesus to remember him and accept him!
His faithful request was answered, and he enjoyed being in Paradise with Jesus that day!
Even a dying criminal could bear witness for the Lord. His company was a great comfort and encouragement to Jesus Christ. Never despise yourself. The Lord treasures you and me. We can undoubtedly see Christ and glorify Him at our worst adversity!