Luke 23:43 (HCSB) ~
And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”
Hanging on that cross in agony, Jesus is asked a question by the criminal who is hanging next to him, "Remember me when you come into your kingdom." And even in his pain, Jesus assures him of his eternal destiny.
As I reflected on this today, I realized that there would have been no time for this man to ask for forgiveness from those he wronged. No time for him to make restitution. No time for him to act differently. No time for baptism nor any of the outward symbols of a changed life. There was just a desperate plea to be remembered.
And just as quickly Jesus, recognizing his heart condition and his repentance, speaks these simple words, "You will be with me today." It's just that simple.
How many times do we think people have to prove that they are changed. We want to make sure their salvation is sincere. We make them jump through hoops. We demand they earn forgiveness. We define them by their mess.
Jesus took people where they were. He looked through the messiness and into the heart. He doesn't demand that you clean up your act and then you can come to him. Approach him from wherever you are in your life. Be humble about your struggles. Ask him to change you from the inside out.
It's just a desperate recognition of knowing you need him. It is as simple as saying, "Remember me." And just as simply he will forgive.