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The Criminal on the Cross

Brad Smith

Resurrection Day is almost upon us. It’s a day of celebration! He lives!

But the celebration would not have occurred unless Jesus suffered and died.

Yet in that suffering he still cared for a man.  A criminal. 

After crowds of people falsely accused and mocked Him; after soldiers whipped, beat, and pressed a circle of thorns on His head, which He was too weak to remove*, and forced Him to carry one or both parts of His cross, probably weighing over 100 pounds for approximately a mile uphill; after 4- to 6-inch nails were driven through His wrists and ankles, attaching Him to the wood, and then hanging there by the nails…in that state of excruciating pain.

There were two criminals hanging there with him. Three crosses, with Jesus hanging on the one in the middle. One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed Him: “One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: ‘Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!’ But the other one made him shut up: ‘Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.’ [Then Jesus] said, ‘Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.’” (Luke 23:39-43 MSG).

Immediately Saved

The second criminal, the man who acknowledged that he deserved his punishment, was immediately saved. He didn’t work for it. He didn’t give money. He didn’t attend a church service. He didn’t light a candle. He didn’t even recite the sinner’s prayer. He simply admitted that he was a sinner—that he had done wrong.

And he just asked Jesus, “Would you remember me when you enter in to your kingdom?” He believed who Jesus was; he believed that the Messiah could save him. He didn’t have to have all the answers or understand everything about Jesus and what He could do, he simply, humbly asked: Please remember me…please save me.

Jesus knew this man’s heart. Jesus knew he was asking forgiveness with his humble request and He saved him—as quickly as you can snap your fingers.

That’s grace.

No works—just a humble, believing heart asking for help.

Amazing grace.

That’s all you have to do. Ask with a humble heart. Realize that you have done wrong things, but believe that Jesus can save you. Ask for His help. That’s it.

Happy Resurrection Day!

*“The whipping was so severe that it tore the flesh from His body. The beating so horrific that His face was torn and his beard ripped from His face. The crown of thorns (two to three inch thorns) cut deeply into His scalp.” (Source)


  • Brad Smith

    Brad Smith is the executive director of Men of Valor International.

Picture of Brad Smith
Brad Smith is the executive director of Men of Valor International.
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