“Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23:40-42 (ESV)Remember that he is literally nailed to a beam suffering excruciating pain, yet he understands fully what is most important.
- There is a God to be feared. This man was going to die soon. His time was over. Thoughts turned to the fact of life after death and meeting the ultimate authority. No sacrifice could make do for sin at this point, nor would one consider that God would accept it if offered.
- Guilt deserves punishment. The criminal knew his course in life deserved the recompense it received. The man beside him was a stark contrast. There was no definable guilt that should bring such an end. The contrast was obvious, but that innocent one was still dying. He did not deserve death much less a savagely cruel one.
- There is a savior. Understanding his plight and lack of options, the criminal calls on the only one who can act. Note this was not like as David in Psalm 51 who cried out to God for cleansing. This malefactor turned to Jesus instead. In that relatively short time, the criminal caught a glimpse of who was beside him. He sought mercy and received it.