And he (the criminal) said, "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom." And He said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:42-43).
Read Luke 23:39-43.
From every direction Jesus hears mockery and ridicule. Even the criminals hanging on either side join in with the Jewish rulers and Roman soldiers (see Matthew 27:44).
But after a while one falls silent. When the other criminal takes up his taunt again, the first speaks out, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds" (Luke 23:40b-41a). Clearly, he has been thinking back over his life, considering the deeds that led to this torturous end, and of the fearful judgment that soon awaits.
Then he jumps to Jesus' defense, revealing the faith that now fills his heart: "But this Man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:41b). With firm confidence and faith that Jesus truly is the King of the Jews, the Chosen One, the promised Christ, he turns to Him and prays, "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom" (Luke 23:42b).
This night we honor our crucified Lord by gathering in His house and rehearsing His Last Supper with His disciples. Like the criminal, we will confess our sins and ask Jesus to remember us when He comes into His kingdom. And through Holy Communion He will give us His body nailed to the cross and His blood poured out for us. We will remember His suffering and death as we eat His body given for us, and drink His blood shed for the remission of all our sins.
And like the criminal, we will hear the dying Savior assure us, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43b).
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, remember us when you come into Your kingdom as this night we remember Your great sacrifice of Your body and blood on the cross for us. Amen.
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