One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
When they came to Golgotha that gloomy Friday morning, there were three men to be crucified, three upright posts were put into position. The three watch each other go through the same ordeal.
Two of them were crucified with brute force as they fought the soldiers. Once nailed to the cross, they were numbed by the shock of pain, fear and agony. The third submitted quietly, with a dignity that made them wonder.
The two on either side of Jesus begin a strange conversation, reviling this one who holds the place of honor between them. On one side, cursing, hatred, and rebellion, looking for someone, anyone to blame for his predicament.
But on the other side, a transformation occurs. Something inside this criminal seemed to change. He no longer reviles against Jesus, but now he rebukes his companion, saying to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
For a moment, Jesus takes not the form of a criminal who is being crucified, but instead, he takes on the dignity and majesty of a king. Filled with compassion and sincerity, Jesus answers him:
“Truly I tell you, today you shall be with me in Paradise.”
Let us pray: Almighty and merciful God, you freely forgive those who acknowledge and confess their sins. Create in us pure hearts and wash away all our sins in the blood of your dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.