Have you ever noticed that the criminal hanging on the cross next to Jesus doesn’t ask the Savior of the world to save him from the torture of the cross? He doesn’t ask Jesus to reduce his suffering. He doesn’t beg the Lord to relieve his own pain or to rescue him from the death that is before him.
He simply asks Jesus to remember him when He comes into His kingdom.
“We are receiving the due reward of our deeds,” the criminal says to the other crucified criminal who mocks Jesus, “but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then, he turns to Jesus in faith and says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:27-43)
Pastor Schuermann explains it this way in a recent sermon:
As the thief on the next cross – himself seemingly hopeless – turns to Christ, hope makes a request: “Remember me. Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” There is hope.
This is how hope speaks. He asks for nothing but to be remembered by Jesus. He doesn’t ask to be saved from the cross, to be spared his suffering, to be granted a last-minute pardon, as the other [criminal] did. When death is unavoidable, hope embraces death and prays, “Jesus, remember me.” He who dies with these words on his lips, dies well.
We, the barren, have the same hope. We can embrace the cross of suffering and pray along with the criminal, “Jesus, remember me.”
And the good news is that He does.
And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”