"One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, 'Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!' But the other rebuked him, saying, 'Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.' And he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' And he said to him, 'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.' " (ESV)
Have you been real with Jesus and allowed Him to cleanse and free you from sin? (Read 1 John 1:9 and explain how this transforms a Christian's life ... and helps us to grow spiritually.)
Imagine how Christ's words of forgiveness reverberated deep into this man's soul. Love he had never known filled and cleansed him. We, too, deserve to die for our sins. Yet how often are we like the first criminal? We do something wrong and find ourselves facing the consequences. We want Jesus to prove Himself, to save us from the situation we're in. We want Him to get us down off the cross, but we don't want to admit that we deserve to be there. Sometimes we even lash out at Jesus for the "injustice" we feel.
But like the second criminal, some of us choose to admit our sin, confess that Jesus is Lord--and receive the gift of eternal life. His story is a beautiful example of the power of confession. Casting aside pride, standing against shame, he submitted to Christ's authority. Just as this criminal met his end with a peace and certainly more powerful than death, so we can face our circumstances with strength, freedom, and guidance from God's Spirit. Only when we make such a confession will we hear those exciting words from Jesus' lips, "... you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).
Lord Jesus, I confess my sin to You today. Please forgive me, purify me, and help me to grow closer to You.