While Jesus hung on a cross, with nails through his hands and feet, with a crown of thorns on His head, a mocking sign of “King of the Jews,” over His head and a criminal on both sides; He was still concerned about saving those who desired to be saved. You know the story, right? These two criminals initially joined in on the mocking of Jesus but as time went on, one of them changed their sound. His sound went from that of suffering to now of surrendering. While the other mocked, this one criminal comes to Jesus’ defense. He didn’t need it but doesn’t it feel good when someone else can defend your honor? Well, this criminal says in Luke 23:40-42, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong. And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” In which Jesus replies in Luke 23:43, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” This was the second of the last things Jesus said on the cross. He’s in pain, He’s been ridiculed and made fun of, nails driven into parts of His body, His clothes divided over dice, given bitter vinegar to drink yet He’s willing to save the one who wants to be saved. Isn’t that good news?
And if I can be honest, many of us have been in the position of this criminal. No, I don’t mean hanging on a cross but we’ve been guilty of a crime yet Jesus is willing, for us. Willing to be mocked, suffer and die; for us. Think about it because we’ve all been at a place where we want to throw in the towel, turn our back on Jesus and give up but as time goes on our voice changes. You may not want to admit it but I am sure there have been times, during your pain, that you’ve cried out to God asking where He is. There have been times when the turmoil of this life almost made you curse God. When things were happening to you, in you and around you that made you feel like Job; tearing off your clothes, shaving your head and sitting in a pile of ashes. But then something happened. Time kept going and your mind changed. As you laid in your bed of burdens, your sound changed. For just like the criminal, you go from a speech of scorn to a sermon of surrender and from pity to that of purpose. For it is when your sound, mind, body and spirit changes that your destination does too because then you can clearly hear Jesus’ saying, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”