Today is Good Friday and we remember the death of Jesus Christ. But also, it’s a celebration because it is Jesus fulfilling His promise to give us eternal life. It’s a good day. That’s why we call it Good Friday.
One of my favorite parts of the Good Friday story actually is Jesus’ conversation with two criminals that hung with Him on the cross. It’s a simple story, but a powerful one that still sticks with me to this day.
While onlookers hurled insults at Jesus, mocking Him for proclaiming to be the Messiah, one of the criminals spoke to Jesus.
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 (NIV)
I think one of the reasons why I love this story so much is because of two reasons. One, Jesus is in a lot of pain and has a lot on his mind. Yet while He is still suffering, being insulted and trying to focus, He still takes the time to acknowledge the men with Him. And for the one criminal who offers his soul and asks for forgiveness, Jesus promised him heaven.
The second part that gets to me are the criminals. There is the criminal who still doubts Jesus. But there is the other one who humbles himself before Christ and asks for forgiveness. Even though he knows he doesn’t deserve it, he still asks for it, knowing that Jesus is the Messiah.
I wonder how many times we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve hit the point of no return. Do we sometimes feel that we’ve gone so far that we just aren’t worth Jesus’ time anymore? Or are we like the humbled criminal, knowing our ugly past but still believing that our God is a loving God who forgives us?
God wants us. God never abandons us. Even when we do things that turn us away from God, the door is still open for us to return. On this day, we saw that in action. No matter how bad things get, we put our trust in Him and we will be with Him in paradise.
That’s why I call it Good Friday.