The wretched man knew his time was up. His hour had come. His life had been a shambles up until this point. He had lived for himself. His objective all these years was to look out for Old Number One.
He became rather good at lying, often doing and saying things to make himself look better to others. At first, he only stole small things. After awhile, he set his sights on more valuable items: Other people’s property! After all, he felt he deserved them. Life was hard and if they were stupid enough to leave their window unlocked…
He spent some time here and there behind bars mostly for minor crimes. Every time he was released, he went right back to doing what he did best: Being a thief and a liar!
One day, the Romans arrested him for robbing people again. This time, the authorities and the people he robbed had had it! They told him, “You are finished! You have committed your last crime! You will be crucified tomorrow with two other men!”
It was now Friday morning. Three men were nailed to their respective crosses on a hill outside of Jerusalem. The hill was called Golgotha, “The Place of the Skull”.
In the New Testament of the Holy Bible, A Physician named Luke captured in writing what happened next. Luke 23:39-43:
“39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him (Jesus): “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40 But the other criminal (our story’s subject) rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” ( words ( ) added for clarity)
This poor criminal, the one asking to be remembered by the Lord Jesus, had nothing to offer Him in order to secure forgiveness, redemption, and eternal life. His plea was for mercy. All he had was a repentant heart.
As the late pastor, Ray Stedman, once said, “God loves you not because you behave. He loves you because you believe.”¹ This poor selfish, lying thief possessed nothing in his miserable track record that would impress a perfect and holy God. But because of a penitent heart, he believed that this Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, and Savior promised in the Old Testament.
King David, a great sinner, who grew to love God and His Word as his life stated in his penitential Psalm 51:17:
“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
forgiveness, redemption, and eternal life…the kind that only the Lord Jesus can give? If so, repent.
Turn from your wicked ways, your self-effort, and your rotten attempt at being pure and holy.
As the penitent thief did, cry out for Jesus’ mercy. Believe that he is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Trust that only He can forgive, redeem, wash clean, and give you His eternal life.
Embrace the truth that He died for you personally. He took all of your sins and failings and suffered on the cross for you.
He paid the severe price. He received the full wrath and judgement of God's Holiness upon sin. In exchange, He gives you His perfect righteousness, His track record, His never ending perfection and purity. This is holiness not earned. It is holiness bestowed, given to you freely as a love gift.
Here is the link to Message #1
Here is the link to Message #2
Here is the link to Message #3
Here is the link to Message #4
Here is a more complete presentation of the Gospel which means "Good News".