Luke 23:26-56; Genesis 42; Psalm 33
“Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’” (Genesis 42:42-43 NKJV)
As Jesus hung on the cross, the Jewish leaders, the Romans, and even one of the criminals dying alongside Him, mocked and belittled Him. Jesus bore all the mocking, all the insults and returned their evil with forgiveness. Then the other criminal rebuked the one who mocked Jesus declaring his belief that Jesus was innocent and then asked Jesus to remember him. Jesus’s response was beautiful. He told that criminal that he would be with Jesus in Paradise that day. He didn’t go through the sinner’s prayer. He didn’t walk an aisle, but that thief is with Jesus in Paradise because He made that confession of faith and asked Jesus to remember him. What does it take to be assured of an eternity with Jesus in Paradise? A simple confession of faith and request. No, that isn’t works based salvation. That’s acknowledging that God’s in control of this world and everything in it and asking Him to be a part of His kingdom. It’s recognizing that Jesus Christ came to earth to close the gap between God and man by dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and bring forgiveness. As we forgive others, we reveal to them the forgiving nature of God and He calls us to forgive and love others just like He did for us.
Did you ever feel unworthy before God? Guess what: that makes you normal. When we recognize the greatness of God, the natural reaction is to feel inadequate. But, Jesus made us worthy by His death on the cross. We can come before God with boldness because we’ve been forgiven. And this is the hard part here: because God has forgiven us, we need to forgive others. Try forgiving the unforgivable. You’ll find that it gives you far more peace than the one who’s been forgiven.
Lord, You forgave the unforgivable in me when Jesus died on the cross. I confess that and ask you to remember me in Your kingdom. Teach me to forgive and love others like You do.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.