The other one, however, rebuked him, saying, “Don’t you fear God? You received the same sentence he did. Ours, however, is only right, because we are getting what we deserve for what we did; but he has done no wrong.” And he said to Jesus, “Remember me, Jesus, when you come as King!” Jesus said to him, “I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me.”” (Luke 23:40–43, GNB)

Perhaps the most extraordinary moment from the cross apart from Jesus’ actual death.  The three are crucified together and while it appears that at first the other two were mocking Christ even as they experienced their own death, something happened to one of them.  Whether it was Jesus demeanor on the cross, or his words or actions, or a combination of all of these, he was obviously profoundly struck by the unusual man who was dying along with them.

He proceeds to rebuke the other criminal who continued to mock Jesus.  He proclaims that Jesus is innocent even though he and the other condemned man were guilty.  He confesses that Jesus is King.  He asks Jesus to remember him, thereby acknowledging that he believed that there was life beyond death, and that Jesus was king of it.  Amazing.

Jesus, in turn, promises that “today you will be in Paradise with me.”

So promised.  So done.

The justly condemned criminal was drawn into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Just in time.