“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise”
(Luke 23:43).

This is the story of the dying thief who believed in Jesus and was saved at the very last second.

Was any man ever in a more desperate situation? Brutally crucified, the  is dying in agony for sins he had committed, crimes he had done. He is a guilty man justly punished. He deserves to die and he knows it.   By sundown, he will be dead. His case has been tried, the judgment announced, the sentence carried out. All purely legal avenues have been exhausted. This man is as close to death as you can be and still be alive. Now at the last moment he makes one final appeal to the Supreme Court of the Universe:  “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).

Here we have the most amazing example of saving faith in all the Bible. Jesus is hanging next to him, a bloody mess, a sight awful to behold. The disciples are long gone, having run for cover when things went bad the night before. The man’s feet and arms are nailed to the cross, ropes hold his body upright so it won’t fall off. Every movement is agony, every breath torture. Beneath him and behind him the howling mob screams for blood. They jeer, they hiss, they curse, the spit, they roar like wild hyenas. They cheer as he coughs up blood, they roar with approval when someone aims a rock at a piece of tender flesh. It is garish, hellish, brutal and inhuman. Yet it is here—amid the blood and gore—that this man comes to faith.

Here is a very bad man who was a very bad man was indeed saved at the very last moment. Thank God it is so. He had lived an absolutely rotten life, yet he died a Christian death. It happened by the grace of Jesus Christ.

This man could not lift a hand for the Savior for his hands were nailed to a cross. He could not run any errands for the Lord for his feet were nailed to a cross. He could not give his money for he had not a penny to his name. For this man, there was no way in but the mercy of God.

He was pardoned before he lived a single righteous day. In one transforming moment, a man who was not fit to live on earth was made fit to live in heaven.

If this man can be saved, anybody can be saved. If there’s hope for him, there’s hope for you. If he can make it to heaven, so can you. If Jesus would take him, he’ll certainly take you.

Lord Jesus, you came to save sinners and I certainly qualify. You are my only hope of heaven. In you I place all my trust for time and  eternity. Amen. 

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.