During this past Sunday’s sermon, my pastor referenced a scripture that has always touched my heart. His teaching didn’t center on this particular passage, but it was used to expound on a different subject.
I was reminded of the scripture again this morning during prayer. This beautiful event is recorded in Luke, capturing the last few moments of Jesus’ earthly life. It so clearly demonstrates the love and mercy of God that I want to share it with you:
“Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him (Jesus). When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.
“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
“The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”
“One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”
“But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
“And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23-42 New Living Translation
What a contrast between love and hate, between humility and pride, between compassionate mercy and stubborn denial. Who do you know that would intercede, asking forgiveness for the people who had condemned them to die? Who else would take the time to comfort another while both are suffering a slow, tortuous death?
With the few precious minutes he had left, a dying man, a thief, recognized that Jesus was the Son of God and repented. I am brought to tears when I read the verse that follows: “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
The Lord’s words echo in my heart, filling me with awe at the magnitude of His mercy. One more soul saved from death! Forgiven not because of anything that he himself had done to earn it, but by the act of the One who took the punishment we all deserve. This is God’s amazing grace!
For whoever takes the time to read this post, just think on this for a while:
Salvation is not earned. You haven’t done enough wrong to be excluded from it and you can never do enough right to deserve it. You cannot buy mercy and grace. It is the free gift of God for whoever will receive it.
Blessings as you go about your week! If you have the time, enjoy this song by Todd Agnew: Grace Like Rain