The criminal who rebuked the other caught my attention today. The more I think about him the more I admire him!
Yes, I know that at first he participated in taunting Jesus (Matt 27:44). But at some point in the day, he stopped.
I can imagine at first, he was only thinking of the agony he was in. “I can’t breath!”, “I can’t feel my limbs.”, “Every part of my body hurts.”, “I’m so thirsty” (Those would be the thoughts about the physical, but then there are the emotional thoughts.) “I’m naked!”, “Everybody is glaring at me!”, “There’s that girl I liked in school. This is so embarrassing! What must she be thinking of me!” , “Argg, there’s the jerk that turned me in!, Oh, if only I got away!”
Crucifixion is a slow death, he had a lot of time to think…and become introspective…
I would think every single thought would be about his misery! So, how surprising to read the change of heart that he displayed!
“We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserved.” (Luke 23:41)
Who says that when they are getting punished?!…“I deserve this!”, said nobody ever!!
It’s more likely that one would justify their wrong doing and point fingers elsewhere as to who was at fault. Can’t you just hear it? “I didn’t have a good up bringing, it’s my parents fault!”, “I didn’t have as many opportunities as others!”, “It’s the governments fault!”
Anyway, I was even more impressed at what he said next, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (23:42) He understood something the disciples didn’t even understand. The disciples thought Jesus was going to establish an earthly kingdom (24:21).
This criminal was the first to understand, believe and confess, out loud, that the kingdom of Jesus was bigger than an earthly kingdom. Perhaps he was present when Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” (23:3)
The criminal, at some point while hanging on the cross, must have been mulling over the answer Jesus gave and came to the conclusion that his words were true. When we come to that realization ourselves, like the criminal on the cross, it provokes a heart change. I pray all my loved ones come to that conclusion before they die, just as the criminal did.
It’s only too late if one comes to that conclusion after one dies.😳