Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto you, Today you shall be with me in paradise.
As I read that scripture this morning I stopped to think on it. First of all Jesus had cried out to His Father to forgive the very people who had flogged Him ripping pieces of His flesh from his back every time the whip lashed across His back, thirty-nine times. He asked the Father to forgive the soldiers as they placed the plaited crown of thorns on His brow pushing the thorns deep into the flesh so that blood ran down across His face, into His eyes and mouth. Forgiveness for them as they hung Him in a way that would cause suffocation, as they pierced His side, yes forgiveness for them because “they know not what they do.” He wasn’t trying to impress anyone but in fact one of the thieves hanging next to Him heard this and suddenly he had something to say, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
This thief had to have recognized Jesus, hanging next to him bruised and broken and hanging there on a wooden cross just like himself, as a king or he wouldn’t have used the word kingdom, don’t you think?
In that moment Jesus was his savior. The thief put his faith in this man hanging there beside him and Jesus had compassion on him. In that moment the man’s sins were forgiven and he gained admittance into the kingdom!
I said it made me stop and think, and this is the sum of those thoughts, if Jesus could forgive all that was done to Him, if He could forgive the thief hanging next to Him of his sins without knowing anything about him, then how can I not forgive people who have hurt me? What right have I got to hold anything in my heart against anyone? You’re right, none at all.
But there is something more important than that, why can’t I forgive myself for stupid mistakes I have made?
John 3:16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”
Jesus loves me. He died for me. I need to love myself because He loved me first.