Two thieves were sealed with the same fate but their destinies were opposite.
As the most disgraceful form of execution under ancient Roman rule, crucifixion was designed as a punishment to maximize pain and suffering for the worst of criminals.
These criminals were flogged and made to carry their cross before being nailed to it and hung up under a sign with their crime written on it.
The most famous and unusual of deaths by crucifixion was Jesus Christ the Nazarene.
While the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate found no grounds to crucify Jesus, he gave in to the demands of a jealous crowd stirred up by the religious mob.
Hatred towards Him had arisen when He claimed to be God and challenged the religious authority of the day with His piercing teaching about God's forgiveness for those who are humble of heart and His miraculous signs that proved His divine authority.
Hanging on a cross at Golgotha, the sign under Jesus mockingly read "This is the King of the Jews".
On both sides of Jesus hung two thieves who had been sealed with the same fate.
Joining the mocking crowd, one thief shouted out to Jesus "Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" (Luke chapter 23).
He hurled insults despite his situation but was quickly rebuked by the criminal on the other side of Jesus who retorted, "Don't you fear God since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
Turning to Jesus this thief humbly added, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom."
Having acknowledged that he was getting what his deeds deserved and yet that Jesus was God and without sin, something amazing happened.
Jesus turned to this thief and answered him saying, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."
This man came and Jesus received him instantly into his everlasting Kingdom as they were dying together.
Suddenly the cruelty of death lost its sting and the guilt of past sins was replaced with a reassurance that Jesus did not hold anything against this thief because of his humility and faith in Him.
No matter what you have done, where you have been or what experiences you have had in life, know this: it is never too late to turn to Jesus in this life.
Like the example of the thieves next to Jesus, God's everlasting promise to you is that He "resists the proud but gives grace (undeserved kindness) to the humble" (James 4:6).
His arms are always open ready to receive you if you humbly come to Him in faith with a genuine desire to submit everything to Him. •