And he said, "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom" (Luke 23:42).
Read Luke 23:35-43
Now we turn to the two criminals crucified with Jesus. The first asks, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" He wants Jesus to be the Christ, but this is only for his own sinful purposes. He wants to cheat justice and escape his suffering and death, but not to amend his sinful life.
But the second criminal looks at Jesus and sees something no one else has been able to see. The Jewish leaders look at Jesus and see a man who can't possibly be a Savior-He can't even save Himself! The Roman soldiers see a powerless king. The other criminal sees a powerless Messiah, but this criminal looks through the crown of thorns, the blood, sweat and tears and sees God's Messiah, the promised King. He asks Jesus to remember him on Judgment Day and not to bar him out of His kingdom because of his life of sin.
As wonderful a confession as we see in the criminal's rebuke and prayer, we see something even more wonderful in Jesus' reply. Not only on the distant Day of Judgment will Jesus remember the dying thief, but this very day his sufferings will cease, and he will be with Christ in paradise forever.
The repentant criminal asked Jesus to remember him. This night in Holy Communion Jesus asks us to remember Him, to remember the sacrifice He made-so we may live. He gives us His body, which He gave unto death for our sins. He gives us His blood poured out, so we might be forgiven and inherit the paradise He has opened to all who will believe in Him.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You forgave a despised criminal and promised him eternal life. Forgive my sins and remember me when You come in glory. Amen.
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