Day 5 - Conversion
Day 5 - listen here
One of the crucified criminals started blaspheming him, saying, ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself – and us as well!’ The other scolded him in response and said, ‘Have you no reverence even for God? Because you’re under the same sentence; but we deserve it, because we are getting the going rate for what we did. But this man hasn’t done anything wrong.’ And he said, ‘Jesus - remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Amen I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
Along with Jesus two criminals were crucified, one on his right, one on his left. They may have walked with him on the gruesome way of the cross, and had after a fashion come to know him. One scorned the supposed Messiah. He desperately needed “salvation” from his terrible death. But seeing Jesus reduced to the same impotence as himself, all he can do is join in the bitter taunts of the onlookers.
By contrast, the words of the man on Jesus’ right record a process of conversion. He rebukes his mocking companion for lacking reverence for God. He admits the justness of their penalty and recognises Jesus’ innocence. Having distanced Jesus from himself and his fellow criminal in this respect, he genuinely turns to Jesus and prays: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” This is the one time in the gospels that Jesus is addressed only by his name, without any further addition.
The two criminals react in different ways to Jesus’ person and suffering. Do you sense a similar dichotomy in you? The essence of salvation is not to be saved from physical death but to be “with Jesus.” Do you long to be with Jesus? Do you sense his presence with you?
You revealed yourself in the Old Testament
in unspeakable power and might,
but in the fullness of time even more
in the coming of your only begotten Son among us.
He showed us his love to the very end.
May we long to be with him always
and may we experience his presence among us
in good and bad days until the end of time. Amen.