S (Scripture): Luke 23:42 Then [one of the criminals hanging on a cross next to Jesus] said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.” 23:43 And Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
O (Observation): Of the two criminals hanging on their own crosses next to Jesus, one mocks Jesus and one believes that Jesus can save him – not from the cross, but in the eternal sense. We don’t know this criminal’s background, other than the fact that he admits that he deserves death, unlike Jesus.
This moment is very powerful and a fulfillment of the Suffering Servant referred to in Isaiah 53:12 – “because he willingly submitted to death
and was numbered with the rebels,
when he lifted up the sin of many
and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”
This one criminal recognizes that Jesus is innocent and has saving power, though I’m sure he doesn’t know anything of the Isaiah texts. But he doesn’t need to know the Isaiah texts. He is in the saving presence of the Suffering Servant. And salvation came to him on the day faith was kindled in him…on the day he believed that Jesus could save him. That makes a difference for the criminal “today”, but also for eternity.
A (Application): When do we recognize salvation? Now? Or when we die? I favor the understanding that my eternal salvation is both a now and future thing. Knowing that my salvation in the future is secure gives me relief today. I’m not spending this life worried about whether I’m saved or not. Rather, I get to spend this life doing what I can to do God’s will.
So that frees me to discern 2 things on a daily basis: What is God saying to me? And, what does God want me to do about that? Sometimes I do this alone. Sometimes I do this with other disciples. Either way, I see my faith life as something I “get to do”, not “have to do.” I think the criminal on the cross who believes in Jesus has a lot in common with me.
Both guilty. Both redeemed. Both in it to bring other people to Christ. Both in paradise.
P (Prayer): Lord, save me and all people from sin and death, and save us for your Kingdom work in this world. Amen.