And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”– Luke 23:43
Scripture reading: Luke 23:35-43
We might view the conversion of the thief on the cross as a peculiar and singular event. There are aspects of this encounter that are unique. The criminal was near death, had no opportunity to join the church in Jerusalem and was hanging next to Jesus on a cross. But, his conversion is really very similar to that of every person who is saved.
We are all saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ. Notice the faith of this criminal. What he saw with his eyes was a beaten, bleeding man hanging in agony on a cross. Jesus didn’t appear to be the King of Glory and Son of God. Yet, in spite of the mocking unbelief of others, this man put his trust in Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” God opened his eyes of faith so that he saw Jesus for Who He really was. And he believed.
Jesus’ response shows His power and grace. Even on the cross, in agony, He is powerful to save. Christ made that sinful criminal fit for heaven in a moment. The thief didn’t have to spend time in purgatory or try to clean up the mess of his life. Jesus’ atonement is sufficient and effective to save right now. “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
See what joy this brings. Your salvation does not depend on your works, your efforts, or your abilities. Like the criminal, we come to Jesus saying, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”
Suggestions for prayer
Pray that God would open the eyes of faith of friends and family who do not yet believe and that God would restore to you the joy of your salvation.
This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado.