READING: Luke 23-24
They were crucified on either side of Jesus. Criminals. Guilty ones. Rebels. Justifiably condemned. Yet, Matthew 27 and Mark 15 tell us that both rebels “heaped insults on him” as Jesus died (Mark 15:32). They joined the crowds in mocking the Son of God.
It’s only Luke who gives us the rest of the story. One of the criminals rebuked the other, saying, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41). In this case, he joined Pilate and the Roman centurion who declared Jesus an innocent, righteous man (Luke 23:4, 14, 22; 24, 47). The criminal pleaded with Jesus to remember him, and Jesus promised him, “Today, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Thus, the thief changed from a rebellious criminal to a repentant believer over the course of the hours of Jesus’ crucifixion. Maybe the demeanor of Jesus as He died struck the heart of the criminal. After all, He asked the Father to forgive His murderers (Luke 23:34). Perhaps he heard portions of the gospel in the very insults people hurled at Jesus: He was indeed God’s Messiah, the Chosen One, the king of the Jews who saved others (Luke 23:35-38). Somehow, in the hours of his own death, the criminal came to admit his wrong, see Jesus for who He was, and seek Jesus’ remembrance when He came into His kingdom.
So it should be for all of us: watching Jesus die as we read His Word should bring us to repentance and prayer. The story should cause our hearts to burn within us, just like the disciples who heard Jesus Himself open the Scriptures to them (Luke 23:31-32). Reading the story with no response should be impossible.
- Re-read the story of the crucifixion in Luke 23, pausing to consider deeply what Jesus did.
- In the power of the promised Holy Spirit, proclaim the story of Jesus to someone.
PRAYER: “Jesus, thank You for dying in my place. Thank You. Thank You.”
TOMORROW'S READING: John 1-2