Jesus with criminals on the cross

(Luke 23:39-43 NIV)  One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" {40} But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? {41} We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." {42} Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." {43} Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

The tolerant Jesus

Two criminals spoke to Jesus. One insulted Him while the other affirmed Him. Notice Jesus did not even respond to the first one who insulted Him. He totally ignored him and concentrate on what is important – ministering to the one who believed Him.

Would we be so tolerant with people that have insulted us? Usually when we hear an insult we respond immediately, “What did you just say?” Yet Jesus demonstrated what true love is. True love is slow to anger.

(1 Cor 13:4-5 NIV)  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. {5} It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Paradise was offered to sinners

When Jesus was on the cross, there were two criminals beside Him. One of the criminals hurled insults at Jesus. But the other one said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "Today you will be with me in paradise." That criminal did a lot of bad things in his life. That was why he was crucified. But Jesus was willing to overlook all the wrong that he had done. God does not condemn us for our past. He is willing to accept us as we are.

Do you feel that you need to straighten yourself out before you approach God? Jesus would say this to you.

(Mark 2:17 NIV)  "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

God wants to accept you as you are. Jesus demonstrated this when He was willing to accept the criminal who did so much wrong he was sentenced to be crucified.

Is there some sin in your life that you think God would not be willing to accept? Why don’t you confess that sin to God and ask Him to take away the guilt and condemnation?

God accepts us on the basis of our faith, not good deeds

The first criminal hurled insults at Jesus because he did not believe that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. But the second criminal believed. That faith was reflected in what he said to Jesus.

“We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

Because he had faith in Jesus, he was promised entrance into Paradise.

{43} Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Jesus did not look at all the bad things this man had done. Neither will the Father when this criminal dies. Because the Bible teaches that on the basis of our faith in Jesus, God imputes the righteousness of Jesus on us.

(Rom 3:22-24 NIV)  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, {23} for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, {24} and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

This criminal received salvation and could enter paradise not because of good things he had done. He had no more chance to do good things. Yet righteousness does not come from doing good deeds. It comes from a relationship with God attained through faith in Jesus Christ.