Do you feel like you’ve messed up too much to make your life right? You’ve gone too far from God for Him to ever accept you back? Do you have guilt that you can’t make go away no matter what you do? Do you think you’ve waited too long?
When Jesus was lead away to be crucified, “There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left” (Lk 23:32-33). Mark reminds us that this fulfilled the Scripture which says, “He was numbered with the transgressors” (Mk 15:28; Is 53:12).
As Jesus hung on the cross, “those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing” (Mt 27:39-44).
You might think that this is about as bad as it can get and that there’s no hope for anyone involved – especially for the robbers who, not only are criminals, but are blaspheming and mocking like everyone else (Mk 15:32). But then something unexpected happens. “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our own deeds, but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom’” (Lk 23:39-42).
We don’t know what sparked this man’s change of heart and confession of faith. We don’t’ know how he knows about Jesus and His kingdom. His situation was dark and desperate. He could do nothing but trust Jesus. So, the criminal did just that. Was it too late? “Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise” (Lk 23:43).
Jesus had power on earth to speak this man’s sins forgiven (Mt 9:6). Today, He exercises His forgiving power when we believe, repent, confess Him, and are baptized in water. (Mk 16:15-16; Ac 2:38) None of us are too bad or too far for Jesus to forgive. Both thieves were sinners. One thief repented and turned to the Lord before it was too late. It’s not too late for you. What will you do? dd