Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
These were some of the final words Jesus heard during his life on earth. A sinner to his left and a sinner to his right. One, jeered him, and questioned his divinity. He mocked his inability to save himself from the cross. The other, has a conversion of heart, and humbly asks for forgiveness.
Amen I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.
This is one of the seven last words Jesus spoke before he died on the cross. He responds to the sinner. And, not just any sinner. A sinner who was previously a nonbeliever. He is assured he will join Jesus in Heaven.
Jesus is literally dying on the cross, but He is still teaching us. He recognizes one’s humbled heart. He offers him His holy grace.
Think of this. Today, we are all sinners. No one is perfect. Jesus understands this. He preached about this regularly. And here, we see one of His final gestures before He turns His spirit over to God the Father. Examine your own life. Your own sins. What keeps you from talking to Jesus? What is preventing you from humbling your heart and simply asking for His forgiveness? What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for your deathbed to ask Jesus to remember you in His Kingdom? If so, why?
Sin is a remarkable thing. It stays with us. We often don’t think of it, or even grasp its magnitude in the moment. But, it lingers. It can cripple. It can destroy. Yet, what does Jesus ask of us? In fact, what did he do for us sinners? Examine one of his other last words from the cross. It is finished. Here, it references the need for Jesus to die for our sins. This isn’t to be interpreted as a parable or looked at metaphorically as many stories of the Bible are. No, this is literal. He completed the covenant God made with man. He died so we could be forgiven for our sins. Therefore, knowing this, why is it still so tough for us to overcome our own selves and move beyond our sins? What holds us back?
We make excuses. We go through them all. It’s someone else’s fault, not mine. It’s not that big of a deal. Everyone sins. It’s not me who’s the problem, it’s the world that’s messed up. I’m not the sinner, the church is. Why do I need to connect with Jesus via the church? What’s the point of praying? Oh, Jesus will forgive me anyway, because he knows I didn’t mean it. The list goes on. Justifying. Bartering. Bargaining. But, why? Why do we not simply admit the wrong, humble our hearts, and ask for grace? If Jesus can offer this to a sinning nonbeliever in His dying hour, surely He can offer it to me, right?
Let’s take a look at yet another of Jesus’ seven last words. His first words from the cross. Father forgive them, they know not what they do. Jesus not only forgives the sinner he doesn’t know who’s nailed to the cross next to him, but he asks God to forgive His assailants. His executioners. The very people who took Jesus from us are given grace from Jesus on the cross. It’s hard to imagine my sins are worse than literally carrying out a plan to kill the only Son of God. So, what really holds me back from moving beyond my sin and becoming closer with Jesus? Have I never thought of my sin in this manner? Or, is it that I am not a believer? Maybe you should talk to Jesus about this.