If anyone was ever worthless, this one was. If any man ever deserved dying, this man probably did. If any fellow was ever a loser, this fellow was at the top of the list.
Perhaps that is why Jesus chose him to show us what he thinks of the human race.
Maybe this criminal had heard the Messiah speak. Maybe he had seen him love the lowly. Maybe he had watched him dine with the punks, pickpockets, and potmouths on the streets. Or maybe not. Maybe the
only thing he knew about this Messiah was what he now saw: a beaten, slashed, nail-suspended preacher. His face crimson with blood, his bones peeking through torn flesh, his lungs gasping for air.
Something, though, told him he had never been in better company. And somehow he realized that even though all he had was prayer, he had finally met the One to whom he should pray.
“Any chance that you could put in a good word for me?” (Loose translation.)
“Consider it done.”
Now why did Jesus do that? What in the world did he have to gain by promising this desperado a place of honor at the banquet table? What in the world could this chiseling quisling ever offer in return? I mean, the Samaritan woman I can understand. She could go back and tell the tale. And Zacchaeus had some money that he could give. But this guy? What is he going to do? Nothing!
That’s the point. Listen closely. Jesus’ love does not depend upon what we do for him. Not at all. In the eyes of the King, you have value simply because you are. You don’t have to look nice or perform well. Your value is inborn.
Think about that for just a minute. You are valuable just because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you are. Remember that. The next time someone tries to pass you off as a cheap buy, just think about the way Jesus honors you…and smile.
I do. I smile because I know I don’t deserve love like that. None of us do. When you get right down to it, any contribution that any of us make is pretty puny. All of us—even the purest of us—deserve heaven about as much as that crook did. All of us are signing on Jesus’ credit card, not ours.
And it also makes me smile to think that there is a grinning ex-con walking the golden streets who knows more about grace than a thousand theologians. No one else would have given him a prayer. But in the end that is all that he had. And in the end, that is all it took.
No wonder they call him the Savior.
From No Wonder They Call Him the Savior
Copyright 1986, Max Lucado