41We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:41-43)
Many young Christians struggle with the gift of grace. I know this as I reflect on my own early resistance to a relationship with Christ. My battle in those dawning days stemmed from a false need to buy salvation in some way. This transaction included the so-called works of faith or the good deeds performed to prove I was worthy of such a Divine gift.
This passage concludes the account of the two criminals that were with Jesus in His final hours, one full of pride and self, and the other penitent and humble. The humble man acknowledges his sins and realizes his punishment is just. He then accepts Jesus as the Son of God by asking for his memory to remain alive in the Kingdom of heaven. By this acceptance, Jesus assures him “…today you will be with me in paradise.”
We do not know the history or even name of this first Christian, but we know his salvation unfolded in an instant. There was no time for good deeds to be performed or perfect prayers to be recited. He confessed his sins and accepted Jesus as his savior. He was then awarded the Divine grace of the Lord and a passage into the paradise kingdom of heaven.
We must come to know that Grace is a gift through our acceptance of Jesus Christ. As this acceptance takes hold of us, our heart will yearn to perform the works of faith in and around this temporary home out of willingness not of obligation. It is through this same acceptance that we are awarded the door into our eternal home in heaven.
May God Bless You and Give You Grace