Judges 8:18-32; Luke 23:26-43; Psalms 99:1-4; Proverbs 21:28-29
NT: “When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided his clothes and cast lots. The people stood watching, and even the leaders were scoffing: “He saved others; let him save himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him. They came offering him sour wine and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” An inscription was above him: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”” (Luke 23:33-43 CSB)
As a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:12, Jesus was numbered among the transgressors by being crucified between two criminals, and He interceded for the transgressors by asking God to forgive His executioners. As the crowds, the religious leaders, and even one of the crucified criminals mocked Jesus, one of the criminals had a moment of revelation and faith. Written above Jesus was a sign that said, “This is the King of the Jews.” Somehow, as that criminal looked at the beaten, bloodied, crucified Jesus, he realized that Jesus was the Messiah. Imagine that faith that was required to come to that conclusion. Many of those who were in the crowd mocking Jesus had probably followed Jesus during His ministry – yet when things didn’t go their way, they rejected Him. Yet here, in the final hours of Jesus life – beaten beyond recognition… seemingly powerless and miracle-less… being shamed and ridiculed by everyone, and looking far from kingly – the criminal placed his faith in Jesus and said, “When (not if) you come into Your kingdom, remember me.” In that moment of faith, the criminal was numbered among the righteous and would be with Jesus in Paradise. Jesus may not have saved His own life, but He saved the life of a repentant criminal.
Proverbs: “A wicked person puts on a bold face, but the upright one considers his way.” (Proverbs 21:29 CSB)
You can see this proverb illustrated in the two criminals that were crucified with Jesus. One criminal was bold and defiant, while the other considered his guilt. Wicked here means guilty of sin or unrighteous. Both criminals were guilty, but one was numbered with the righteous and one was not. What made the difference? A humble consideration of his guilt accompanied by confession and repentance. The Bible teaches that all have sinned – but the Bible also says that among those sinners are saints that have been cleansed from their sin through faith, confession, and repentance.