If you ask any person on the street if they are going to heaven, they will most likely tell you that they are, if you ask them why they will tell you because they are a good person. Everybody wants to be with Jesus in paradise, but the two thieves on the cross show us that only those who admit they are sinners in need of grace will be those who will enter heaven.
And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Two Different Hearts
Jesus hung on the cross between two thieves. These weren’t your ordinary petty thieves who stole from the local market but probably stole something from the Roman government. They didn’t just put anybody on the cross. You had to do something worthy of capital punishment. Jesus wasn’t in the midst of good company, yet we see a contrast of hearts. One thief wanted something for nothing until the moment he died. He wanted Jesus to rescue him from the cross. The other thief knew he deserved his punishment and just wanted Jesus to remember him.
Our lives resemble one of these two thieves. We are either wanting the Lord to bail us out of our problems, or we are humbled by our choices and take responsibility for them. Sadly, we have offered cheap grace in the church and told people that God will forgive us with no expectation of anything afterwards. We expect God to use His powers to get us out of a jam but then leave us alone afterward.
With Jesus in Paradise
We can all learn from the thief who humbly asked the Lord to remember him. He didn’t ask to be rescued. Instead, he recognized that he was a sinner in need of grace. He threw himself at the mercy of the Son of God, knowing he didn’t deserve anything. Jesus recognized that and told him he would be in paradise with Him that day. His eternity was redeemed when he understood he needed a savior.