By Chaplain (Col) Stephen W. Leonard, USA, Ret.

“Today, you will be with Me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

Not many bystanders in the crowd that watched Jesus’ crucifixion could hear all the words Jesus spoke from the cross. Indeed, it takes all four accounts from the four gospels to accumulate all of Jesus’ last words as He hung on the cross. 

The criminals who hung with him had words, too. Only Dr. Luke records the disagreement between the two. One mocked Jesus, and the other rebuked him for his mocking. He then turned to Jesus, asking Him to remember Him when He entered into His Kingdom. 

What did Jesus do with his request? Jesus never batted an eyelash. He said, “Today, you will be with Me in paradise!” These are the most glorious and the sweetest words this criminal has ever heard in his entire life! They marked out his entire eternity. 

He had led a life of crime up to that point. He could well have been a murderer. His crimes were such that he was given capital punishment. No light thing. And yet, in the last end of the eleventh hour of his life, he was accorded eternal life by the King of Kings. 

Not fair, you say. Well, it is not your decision. This criminal trusted in Jesus by and in faith. He came to God the Father in the only way he could: through Jesus, who is the only door to God and to eternal life. It matters not that it was so near the last breath that he would ever take. Only that he took this step of faith before he breathed his last. 

This was a powerful life example of the words of Matthew 24: one was taken and the other left. One won eternal life through his humble faith, and one failed to gain entrance through his proud denial of the Son of God. 

It is the most serious decision of all of life. But I would not wait until your eleventh hour to make it. It is a horrendous waste of most of your life!

Jesus said in his Word in the Book of Hebrews“Today is the day of salvation!” Meaning you should act as though you were taking your last breath today, even though your life proves later this is not the case. You may have 50-60-70 years left. But there is no way to even know that. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to you. Act today. Your tomorrow may never come. 

The salvation of the criminal on the cross is a lesson to everyone. Do not procrastinate! There are many ways for you to enter eternity, whether heaven or hell. It does not need to be on a cross, or through punishment for crimes committed. Heart attack, accident, health, crime, terrorist action, what have you, could take your life today or tomorrow.

All the days are previously ordained for you by the God of all life. Only you do not have any idea how many are left. So, procrastination is never an option. 

In any case, wouldn’t you prefer for as much of your life to count for eternity as possible? Why throw any of it away in unbelief and in disservice to the Lord of all? 

He came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. It is worth it all to give as much of your life as possible in humble and faithful service to Him and because of His love for you to your neighbor. 

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe! Make this your life’s true motto.


“And when, before the throne, I stand in Him complete, ‘Jesus died my soul to save,’ my lips shall still repeat. Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe; sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”
(4th verse of Alvina Hall’s hymn, “Jesus Paid It All,” 1865)

Stay Updated

Sign up for our monthly newsletter and weekly devotional

Share This!

Recent Posts