When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Sadly, all of us have sinned. Each of us is guilty. Now a sin is more than just an innocent mistake or a misunderstanding. (There is in guilt in those things.) The truth is that each of us at times have sinned by knowingly choosing to do what is wrong instead of doing what is right. With every sin, we hurt each other. We also hurt our relationship with Jesus, who is entirely good, and the most deserving of our love. All of us are guilty. We have all committed crimes against God and our neighbors. So what shall we do?
Like the two criminals in the gospel we just heard, this morning we have the opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ, in the sacrament He gives us. But like which of those two criminals will we be in His presence? The first criminal didn’t acknowledge or care about his own sins. He tried to ignore his terrible situation and treated Jesus on the cross like a joke. However, the second criminal, who tradition calls the Good Thief, acted wisely and well. He recognized in Jesus Christ the one person in the whole world who could really help him. This guilty man praised Jesus for his goodness and asked for Him for His mercy. And Jesus forgave him and promised him great things.
On behalf of Jesus Christ, I beg you this morning to make a good confession, heartfelt confession of your all sins. Jesus said to the Good Thief, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Like the Good Thief, Jesus wants you to know the blessings of His complete forgiveness today.