Luke 23:40-41 - 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.”
Two criminals; and Jesus. All three receiving the same punishment, yet Jesus was the only one taking verbal abuse. Many of the people gathered at the cross were mocking Him, including the soldiers. They were hurling insult upon insult. Even one of the criminals joined in and started mocking Him as well. He was on the cross receiving the same punishment, but he still did not understand.
Then there was the other man. He was a criminal as well, but he had an understanding of who Jesus was. He was on the cross because he was a criminal, but he knew it was different with Jesus. Jesus was innocent and he knew it. More than that he knew Jesus was a righteous man.
In that day and age it would have been impossible not to have heard something about Jesus. He had been traveling and teaching and performing many miracles for about three years. I’m sure everyone had a story. Some way Jesus had touched their life or the life of someone they knew. Maybe this guy had been at one of the gatherings where Jesus had performed some sort of miracle. It’s hard to say, but it is obvious that he had heard of Jesus prior to this encounter, and he knew Jesus didn't belong here. Yet there He was, nailed to a cross next to him, as a criminal.
This man knew the truth. While everyone else was hurling insults he defended Jesus. Then he turned his attention to Jesus and asked Him a question, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He looked past the humiliated man that was dying next to him and saw Jesus for who He truly is, the King of kings. Jesus looked past the life this man had lived as a criminal and into his heart, then responded, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
So in looking at this story we see that our past doesn't matter. Jesus only looks at the condition of your heart right now. No matter what you have done or where you have been Jesus still wants you. This man was convicted and dying as a criminal, but Jesus looked past that and saw his heart had changed. He will take your heart as well, whenever you are ready to give it to Him. Don’t wait until the last minute, or it may become too late. Turn to Him today.