Here hangs a criminal, a man who has broken the law, he has stood trial and been deemed no longer worthy of life. He knows he is getting what he deserves. He knows the weight of shame and guilt he carries now cannot save him. It seems that no one cares about his fate. No one has any good reason to try to help him, after all he saw no good in himself. And whilst he hears the jests of the world around him ringing in his ears, shouts fuelled by hatred he is all too familiar with, but the don’t condemn him, they condemn the man who hangs beside him. He hears this man praying for them, saying “forgive them”. Could it be possible that this man truly wants forgiveness from these people so full of hatred? Does this man knows their hearts and how stubborn they are? But then there’s something about this man with blood pouring from his crown of thorns, that is full of innocence, he doesn’t belong here, not dying this death, especially not next to him. Could it be possible that this man could be so gracious to them? To him…?
Full of conviction the criminal cries out “Jesus” and through the blood stained tears his eyes are met by perfect love, ashamed he looks away “remember me, when you come into your kingdom” if nothing else. In his life slowly draining from him he considers that he imagines the response, but it is clear and speaks straight to his broken spirit, spreading amazing light into the darkest recesses of his soul, destroying the curses and lies, the hurt and the hatred hidden there.
“I promise you, today, you will be with me in paradise”
Do we really understand grace? Do we understand what it cost? Do we know what it is to completely abandon our pasts and live in the freedom of Christs amazing love and grace? God gives his grace gives without hesitation. He has chosen to bless us where there seems only cause for punishment. Because Christ took our punishment. That doesn’t seem very fair does it?