Then the convict on the cross said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “What I’m about to tell you is true. Today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:42-43 NIRV
Jesus was alone on the cross but not alone on the hill. Two criminals were crucified on either side of him. One recognised Jesus for who he was, unlike the religious leaders we read about yesterday. He asked for mercy. And he got it.
I have heard it said that “Grace is when God gives us that which we DO NOT deserve and Mercy is when God does not give us that we DO deserve.” When the convict on the cross asked Jesus to remember him, Jesus’ response was, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” It was a promise of immediate fulfilment. It was instantaneous unearned grace and undeserved mercy.
We can learn something of major importance from this incident. What was it about that particular criminal that won Jesus’ favour? Was it because he admitted that he was guilty and deserved the corporal punishment he was getting? Was it because he acknowledged who Jesus was and believed him to have the authority to be able to change his eternal destiny? Or was it because of the significance of Jesus’ hanging there beside him?
This theme of grace and mercy runs throughout the biblical story. Adam and Eve were given mercy and escaped physical death while they received the grace to have dominion and to multiply the image of God. At the first Passover the eldest sons of Egypt died but the Israelites were set free to leave Egypt. And all because of this moment we are witnessing this Easter.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13-14
Grace and mercy are ours because the Father gave, and the Son laid down.
Dear God, teach me how to extend grace and mercy to my family, friends, church community, in fact, all whom I meet.
For the family
Sit back, relax and enjoy this description of God's character