As He hangs there seemingly helpless, we see that Jesus was still ready to reach out and share the good news. On His left and right are two criminals. In Luke we see one trusting Jesus, but when we look again in Matthew we see that it didn’t start out that way (Matthew 27:44). So they both felt a momentary superiority to Jesus when He was being scorned by all. Yet, as everyone else continued to berate Jesus, one of the criminals is transformed.
What caused this man, on the cross and on his way to hell, to turn and trust Jesus? The Bible tells us that faith comes by hearing the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). The man with no hope heard Christ, beaten, bloody, crucified, dying for our sins, pouring out His heart, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (vs.34). Jesus appeals to God, not for justice, but for mercy; and not mercy for Himself, but for the ones who are actually guilty.
What does he do now? He goes against the grain, against the crowd, and he rebukes the other criminal. He admits his guilt and confesses his faith. He knew that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, and that He had a kingdom, and he came to Jesus on His terms, and was saved. Time was short, death was near, but this was about eternity, and time stood still. The moment of truth had arrived. Jesus looked at the man and pronounced his salvation!
Jesus can save you no matter what your situation looks like. Jesus can save you no matter what His situation looks like. One of the criminals had given up hope, and just wanted to curse God and die. The other knew that even a dying Jesus still had something for a dying man.
Do you hear His word of forgiveness today, or will your shouts of scorn continue to drown out the call of Divine Love? If you hear His voice today, do not harden your heart (Hebrews 4:7).
We are all like those two criminals on the cross, but which of those will you be?