Christ has paid the ultimate price for our salvation once and for all. With His death on the cross, Christ's shed blood was able to purchase the total forgiveness of sins. And with His resurrection, He provided an eternal hope for all who would believe.
In the final moments of Christ's earthly ministry, while He hung on the cross, we find a profound conversation between Him and a criminal who was sentenced to death. There were two criminals who were nailed to the cross alongside Jesus that day, but this criminal's interaction with Christ was and is remarkable.
We find the story in Luke 23:39-43. This short account here gives us proof that anyone can be saved by Christ.
"Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong."
Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.""
When a sinner truly repents and believes in Christ
Many of us tend to forget that salvation is only by grace. We forget that we receive salvation through Christ's finished work, not through our own righteousness. We even forget that no one is righteous before God. Psalm 53:2-3 tells us,
"God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. Every one of them has turned aside; They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, no, not one."
Christ's response to the criminal, however, shows us that no matter how unrighteous we are, the moment we believe in Him and repent of our sins we can be saved. Think about that,
That criminal was there, hanging alongside Jesus. Instead of asking Jesus to rescue him or blaspheming Jesus like the other criminal did, he acknowledged with his own mouth that Christ did not deserve the punishment given to Him.
He then admitted that he deserved his death sentence, for he was a criminal. He did not seek to acquit himself, nor did he ask Jesus to give him a slap on the hand for his sins.
How was he saved?
What this man did was remarkable:
"Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
Right then and there, in that short exchange, he acknowledged his sins and did not attempt to deny it. Right then and there he acknowledged that Christ had no sin, but was punished. Right then and there he declared his belief in Christ, that the Lord has a kingdom that exists in heaven.
Right then and there he confessed Jesus as his Lord.
Friends, in that short moment of time we find the Gospel of Christ changing the heart and mind of a criminal. We find the innocence of Christ atoning for all the sins of mankind. We find the truth that any man can be saved by Christ when they believe in Him, who He truly is:
That He is Lord.
Friends, Romans 10:9 plainly tells us that salvation is for all who do this:
"...that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."