39 One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”40 Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? 41 We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”
The difference between the two men being executed with Jesus was simple yet significantly complex. The difference was humility. To the casual observer it looks like there are three convicted criminals with no redeeming qualities. At first glance it appears that there is no need to acknowledge their individual and unique characteristics. If you were to operate with the initial presentation of facts you would miss the significant moment that Jesus shared on the cross.
Jesus was innocent of all crimes but was convicted because he challenged the religious status quo. When your influence among people disrupts the influence of those in authority there is always the possibility that those same people will maneuver to assassinate your character, reputation and sabotage your new initiatives.
Along side Jesus you also see two convicted criminals but although both convicted there is a distinct difference in the two. One has humility and the other is arrogant. One taunts Jesus by saying “save yourself” and the other asks to be with Jesus acknowledging that Jesus has done nothing wrong. Humility allows people to extend grace to you when you deserve wrath. Humility acknowledges remorse and repentance when arrogance keeps us separated from God.
Finally we see Jesus make a promise. The promise to be with Jesus in paradise is what we all want to hear. We never learn of the specific crime that this man has committed. We do not read a list of transgressions against society, humankind or God. What we see is Jesus forgiving all of his sins and welcoming this man to dwell in heavenly places with Jesus. The sacrificial blood of Jesus was required for our sins to be forgiven regardless of our past so that we can have a future with him in paradise.
Prayer: Lord forgive me for being judgmental with other people’s sin and not acknowledging my own. Teach me how to live with humility so that I can receive your forgiveness for my sins. Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross. Allow me never to take it for granted.
William T Chaney Jr
New Church Strategist