By Tope Banso!
“But the other criminal protested, ‘Don’t you fear God even when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom’” (Luke 23:40-42 New Living Translation).
Jesus didn’t die out of weakness or because he lacked power to save himself (Matthew 26:52-54). Neither did he die because he was a sinner. He died to save the world, including you!
That is why I pity one of the two criminals crucified with Jesus. He should have kept his mouth shut if he didn’t know the right thing to say.
Instead of taking advantage of the last opportunity he had to make his way right with God, he joined those mocking Jesus. He said, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself — and us, too, while you’re at it!’” (Luke 23:39 New Living Translation) That criminal was not only a criminal, he was also not wise!
But look at his fellow criminal. He was wise. He didn’t join his colleague to scoff at Jesus. He defended Jesus saying he was innocent unlike the two of them and begged him to remember him when he came into his Kingdom as seen in our introductory text. What a wise, God-fearing, repentant criminal!
He took advantage of the last opportunity he had to ask for forgiveness, and he got it. This hell-bound criminal got last minute salvation. His ‘flight’ to hell was diverted to heaven because he believed in the Son of God! His ticket to hell was cancelled because hell was no more his destination! (Psalm 16:10 The Message).
And what was Jesus’ reply to the request of this God-fearing criminal? “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 New Living Translation).
That criminal who mocked Jesus is in hell today. Notwithstanding any excuse for going into crime, he had the last opportunity to seek forgiveness before he died but he wasted it. His fellow criminal who didn’t mock Jesus but desired to be saved and be part of Christ’s Kingdom is in heaven with Jesus today. Why? He took advantage of his last opportunity. Do you know your last opportunity?
If you’re not born again yet, you can be either of these two criminals. You have sinned too (Romans 3:23). But are you going to be as wise as that criminal who acknowledged his sin and Jesus forgave and took to paradise or you’ll be like the other criminal who scoffed at Jesus and ended in hell?
Have you confessed your sinfulness to God and asked for forgiveness through His Son, Jesus Christ or you’re playing with sin and mocking Jesus? “For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 American Standard Version).
Friend, there’s no salvation in any other name except Jesus Christ. Religion saves nobody, a Father and child relationship with the LORD God Almighty does. If you’ve not given your life to Jesus, seize this opportunity now. Today is the day of salvation.
Don’t joke with salvation like that criminal did and went to hell fire. Invite Jesus into your heart now.
●Banso, an Abuja-based minister, can be reached via Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com;
Tel No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523; and on
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947