Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise." Luke 23:43
We could never find a greater depth of despair and hopelessness than we find in the two criminals crucified with Jesus. With their lives ebbing away in a fiendishly cruel execution, their hearts were filled with hatred and their mouths with curses. What a prelude to eternity!
But suddenly for one of the thieves, there was hope where no one could have dreamed of hope. Suddenly, he knew that beside him was his Savior and Redeemer, his Lord and God, who was bearing even his sins. Hardly daring to hope, he turned to his Savior and asked for help. He received help, incredible help.
For Christ it made no difference that the thief's life was one of crime, one in which little if any good had ever been accomplished. Our Lord saw his repentance, and He saw his faith. And that was sufficient. The thief's dying moments had been a prelude of horror to a horror greater still. Now those moments became a prelude, agonizing still, but to an eternity of glory.
When our sins overwhelm us and seem too great to be forgiven, we too can turn to our Savior in repentance and faith and receive from Him the same promise of forgiveness and never-ending life.
PRAYER: Jesus, our Savior, when our last hour comes, may we not doubt but firmly believe Your life-giving promise. Amen.
(Taken from "Words of Promise," copyright 1996 (out of print), Concordia Publishing House. For information on other devotional materials, call 1-800-325-3040.)
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