“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” – Luke 23:39-43
We obtain so many things in our society by earning them. We earn grades in school. We earn trophies and titles for winning games. We earn promotions for working hard. But one thing we can never earn is our salvation. In fact, I believe salvation is much easier to experience and receive than we probably realize.
Let’s think about the thief on the cross next to Jesus for example. There were no good works that deemed him worthy of being saved. The thief himself said, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve” (Luke 23:41). He was being publicly executed and humiliated for the sins he had committed. Not only that, but there were no good works that would follow him. He was on his deathbed, just hours from taking his final breath. There was nothing this thief had done, and nothing this thief could do to earn Jesus’ gift of salvation. But the Lord saved him anyway.
Through Luke’s account of this event, I truly believe God wants us to understand how easy it is to be saved. You and I bring nothing to the table. We have nothing to offer God. No amount of volunteer hours, tithes and offerings, or hours spent in the Word, makes you worthy of being saved. But God’s love is so vast, so eternal, and so unconditional, that He offers us salvation even though we don’t deserve it.
The price of spending eternity with God has already been paid. Salvation is a free gift. And I hope and pray that, if you haven’t already, you take the simple yet monumental step to receive that gift today.