There was a written notice above [Jesus], which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
The Lord Honors You
Most of us have learned to spot junk mail. If a piece of mail is addressed not to our name but to Current Resident, that’s a good tip-off. Advertisers are hoping that we will open the mail they send us, but we can usually sort through junk mail quickly and toss what we don’t think we need.
Jesus claimed to be just what people needed, but he looked more like junk mail to them. They arrested him. When he was on trial, nobody came to his defense. Then nailed to a cross, it appeared to many people that Jesus was a pretender, not a king. The enemies of Jesus treated him like the loser they thought he was.
We too have treated Jesus like something far less than our King. We’ve swept our sins under the rug, thinking he wouldn’t notice. How little we must think of him! We go running for all the things that excite us, but we come to his word like a beast of burden being driven by a whip. Where’s the honor he deserves from us?
In too many ways and at too many times to count, we have all dishonored our King.
Yet we hear words of honor for Jesus coming from a very unlikely place. The dying thief next to Jesus said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Listen to what King Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus was covered in shame. His enemies were mocking him. The devil taunted him. The world was saying to him: “What are you doing up there? If you are such a great and glorious king, what are you doing hanging on a cross?” But Jesus chose to stay there to pay for the sins of his enemies. He opened the door to heaven for condemned sinners, for you.
Jesus’ words are for you, today. Even though you have dishonored him time and again, he has chosen to honor you with his love. By his death Jesus has forgiven you. Therefore, on the day of your death, his promise will shine as brightly for you as it did for the criminal who died in faith that day: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Dear Jesus, you are the King of love, and you have forgiven all my sins. Give me a humble and a glad heart that seeks to serve you faithfully all my days. Amen.
This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.