‘But the other criminal rebuked him, “don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”’ Luke 23:40-43
Two men. Two men hanging. Two men being punished justly for what their deeds deserve.
Their endings the complete opposite.
One man in paradise. The other man not.
There are certain scenarios where it’s plain to see that saving is needed.
Someone drowning. A car crash victim. Stopping a child from running onto the road.
For a long time, I never saw my need to be saved. Wait, if I’m being honest, I never admitted my need to be saved.
I hid behind being a good person. Doing good things. Doing good in life.
Like the other criminal who hung there, I believed that one could save oneself.
‘“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us”!’ Luke 23:39
And then there was a realization that my good wasn’t good enough.
It wasn’t until my self-serving efforts started to crumble, that I started to look elsewhere for help.
Then, like the other thief hanging beside Jesus I admitted to needing a Saviour.
One man. One man hanging on a cross. One man hanging on a cross between two criminals.
One man, who has done nothing wrong.
It was by faith one thief entered paradise not by his good deeds.
Like the two sinners that hung beside Him on the cross we all stand guilty of wrongdoing.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23
And except for accepting His free gift of forgiveness, there is nothing we can do.
“and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24