Read Luke 23:39-43 slowly and silently.
It should have been the end of the line.
It should have been a simple case of “you reap what you sow.”
It should have been the end of the criminal’s story.
But the worst things are never the last things with God.
We don’t know what the criminal did to deserve death by crucifixion. All that we know for sure is that whoever he was, he committed a crime against Rome because only the empire could carry out a sentence of death. We have no indication that the criminal had ever seen Jesus before that day. We know nothing about this man that indicated he had any idea who Jesus was. But something in the events of that day touched him, and somehow, he understood that Jesus was innocent and did not belong on the cross. He watched as everyone around him mocked and taunted Jesus, but Jesus never answered them.
Yet when he spoke to Jesus, Jesus answered.
The entire conversation is stunning from a biblical perspective. No one else in the four Gospels addresses Jesus directly like this. Everyone else in the Bible approached Jesus with a title of some kind. Rabbi. Teacher. Lord. But this criminal speaks to Jesus with intimacy and sincerity seen nowhere else. The mere act of breathing on a cross became progressively more difficult the longer you were on the cross, and many people died from suffocation. Talking to Jesus must have been exhausting and excruciating.
In this man’s darkest hour, he knew his only hope was Jesus.
Jesus spoke and said, “today you will be with me in paradise.”
Read Romans 5:8 aloud.
No matter when we cry out to Jesus, He will answer. We don’t have to use fancy words or formal titles. Jesus, remember us. While we are still sinners, Jesus forgives us and brings salvation. As long as we live, there is hope in our darkest hours. With Jesus, the worst things are never the last things. The criminal died that day for his crimes. Crying out to Jesus didn’t change that.
But that wasn’t the end of his story. When he closed his eyes for the last time on this earth, that wasn’t the end. The next time his eyes opened, he was in paradise and he saw the One Who Promised to Remember Him.
It wasn’t too late for the criminal.
Will you trust Him now as this criminal did? You don’t need to have it all figured out. You don’t have to have a fancy prayer ready. Just say His name. He will hear you. He will answer you.
He will save you.
It’s not too late.
There is still time.
Jesus, remember me.
Maybe there’s someone in your life that everyone has given up on, and maybe you have, too. They blow chance after chance.
Don’t give up on them. Give them to Him.
In a moment, Jesus can change everything.