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 sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly…” – Luke 23:39-43
Scripture reading: Luke 23:33-43
Two criminals were crucified with Jesus, one at either side. They both deserved their punishment. Both addressed Jesus with a last petition. The one spoke to Him in a challenging, mocking way: “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us!” Only if Christ would get him and Himself out of this terrible predicament, would he believe that He was the Christ. Like many people, they will accept God if and when they’re rescued from their earthly trouble and distress, but otherwise… they’ll ignore and reject Him. Jesus did not respond to this man’s petition. The other criminal, however, knew his sin and guilt and confessed the justice of God in the punishment he suffered at the cross. He also knew that Jesus was hanging there innocently, that He was hanging there for the sins of others. Thus he pleads with Jesus if He could also bear his sin and guilt and remember him for a place in God’s kingdom instead of in the hellish forsakenness that he deserved!
This criminal probably knew Jesus, was raised with the Scriptures and the promises of the Messiah. He recognized in Jesus the Redeemer and he remembered God’s grace with His sinful people, Israel, again and again. Hence he prays for mercy, for forgiveness and for the fulfillment of God’s promises. His prayer was heard when Jesus said: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Suggestions for prayer
Pray in awareness of sin and guilt. Ask in humbleness of heart for forgiveness. And thank God for His grace and mercy which Christ obtained for us on the cross by bearing our sins.