Scripture: Luke 23:39-43
Devotional: Justin Padgett
Andrew Peterson’s song “Remember Me” is based off of Luke 23:39-43. In this passage, we are told about one of the robbers that was crucified beside Jesus. As the soldiers and the other man being crucified mock Jesus, this one man professes faith in Christ. This criminal confesses both his sinfulness and his belief that Jesus is the long–awaited king. This passage reminds us of who we are, who Jesus is, and what he has done for us. “Remember Me” tells the story in such a way that it also reveals the story of Jesus’ life, ministry, and coming kingdom.
Both the text and the song remind us of who we really are. Often as we read and hear stories, we find ourselves relating to the hero. When we write ourselves into the narrative, we write ourselves in as the hero of the story. This story does contain a picture of us, and it pictures us as the worst criminal we could imagine. The Roman government reserved crucifixion for the most notorious outlaws. It is here, in the midst of these other criminals,that we find ourselves in the story. We must recognize, like this thief, that we are sinners. We have all rebelled, we have all gone astray, none of us are righteous, and none of us are pure enough to enter God’s presence (Romans 3:9-26). Thankfully, this text contains some good news for sinners like us. It does not leave us despairing over our sins; it tells us who Jesus is and what he has done for sinners like us.
The story of this crucified criminal gives us a clear picture of who Jesus is. The familiar phrase, “remember me when you come into your kingdom” is very profound. The thief on the cross is teaching us an essential truth about Jesus. This phrase reminds us that Jesus is the long–awaited Messiah. He is the promised king that has come to rescue the world. King Jesus is ushering in a kingdom where all wrongs will be made right. The song reminds us that Jesus lived a sinless and perfect life. He died for our sin and rebellion. Jesus was raised so that we could have new and eternal life. Jesus is the king that we need, and the criminal on the cross reminds us of that truth.
The most amazing thing about this story is that Jesus tells the thief and us that he has done all of this so that sinners can be with him in paradise. This is the good news because all of us have sinned and through faith in Christ we can enter his kingdom. Jesus experiences the full wrath of God on the cross so that we don’t have to. This gracious act reunites us to the Father and defeats our worst enemies: sin and death. In Christ we look forward to an everlasting kingdom, where we will enjoy the presence of the king who saved us. The resurrection of Christ guarantees this promised paradise.
Who do you relate to in the crucifixion story? How does this story remind us who we really are?
What will you do to remind yourself who Jesus is and what he has done for you?
Who do you know that needs the good news of this text? Take some time and pray for them. What will you do to make sure they hear this good news?