As we read the Bible, we find that many situations where Jesus interacted with people display three consistent things.
The Goodness of God – we see his heart to restore, heal, provide and lift people up.
The Condition of Humanity – we see our need for God and how lost we are without him.
.Jesus showing up when people are in trouble – he is our help in times of trouble.
The scene found in Luke 23 is a perfect example. Jesus is about to give his life for all of us and interestingly, there are two criminals on either side of him. Both criminals had a choice to make, as a matter of fact, everyone at this event had a choice to make. They could either turn toward Jesus or turn away from him.
The soldiers were casting lots to see who could have the only physical possession Jesus had left, his clothes. It seems like they only wanted what Jesus had instead of who Jesus is. They turned away from Jesus and that is never a good choice.
The religious rulers were full of pride and anger. They mocked Jesus and cursed him. They may have enticed the crowd to do the same. They turned away from Jesus, another bad choice.
The crowd fed off each other’s bitterness and rage, they also mocked Jesus and did not see what he was doing was for them. They unfortunately did not turn to Jesus, but away from him. They missed it.
The first criminal responded almost in the exact same way that at crowd did, he even used the same words. He said, “Aren’t you the Messiah? You saved others, save yourself and us.” He missed an opportunity to be united with God forever.
Only one person made the right choice. The second criminal heard what everyone else heard, Jesus saying “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” He realized that there was still good in the world. It was personified in the man called Jesus, who was also being crucified, but unlike the two criminals, had done nothing wrong. This second criminal made the right choice and asked Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus quickly responded, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” The word paradise means garden. Jesus was saying, “Today I will restore you to the original design, unbroken fellowship with God.”
Three things were evident that day, and are still are very much a part of our lives today.
The beauty of God’s grace – Jesus never asked what the second criminal did, he just accepted him. Grace is not about our goodness, it’s about God’s goodness.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
The voice of the crowd – It was very loud and influenced others to turn away, like the many “crowds” that can do the same in our lives.
Jesus being close to the hurting – with his last dying breath, Jesus was still saving and giving hope.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
You have a choice to make. Turn toward Jesus, he is your only hope in a troubled world.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1