My Mom often said, “It doesn’t hurt to ask. If you don’t ask, you won’t know.” She was right.
People are so often stressed about not being “good enough”, but the most powerful evidence that Heaven is gained by faith alone – not by any human effort – may be the testimony of a dying criminal who just asked.
Jesus on the cross was bloody, gory, weak, suffering, publicly shamed and ridiculed. In the eyes of most, there was nothing to recommend Him as a human or king, and certainly not as any kind of savior. He was accused of being – and, indeed, appeared to be – a lying, blasphemous, cult-leader of a criminal under a common death sentence with two other criminals. In that moment, His appearance gave no one cause for faith. Those suffering and dying with Him were admittedly guilty. They had no good works that were recorded, they certainly were not baptized, did not speak in tongues or prophesy, and had no time left to perform redemptive acts. In that moment, they had nothing to offer anyone – certainly not God. Like many in the crowd, the criminals jeered and taunted the bleeding, dying Jesus.
But one of them changed.
And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” He was on a cross, scared, dying in shame and agony. Couldn’t hurt to ask, right?
Nowhere is it written that Christ said, “Sorry – you need to be baptized. You need good works. You need evidence of the Spirit. Sorry, man.”
Instead, at this evidence of faith alone – a shaky faith born of pain and fear – Jesus told him, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise.”
As Jesus bore the darkness of this world into death to earn redemption for all who believe, he took along the criminal dying right next door. Just because he asked.
No other reason.
So do Christ followers need to do good things? Should we study the Bible, love one another, and act kindly? Yes, of course. But we are called to lives of love and caring and acts of goodness because we have already received grace and are already destined for Heaven, and because we want to share His mercy and our hope with others any way we can. Not because we need to earn our way to Heaven – that way has already been earned for us. We have chosen to believe, we have asked in faith, so Christ has given the gift of eternity. He remembers us – always.
So today, if you just want a some peace in your life, some hope, some assurance, some comfort – even if you are not sure who He is or how He can give it – try a little faith. It doesn’t hurt to ask. If you don’t ask, you won’t know.
“Jesus, remember me.”