There’s a great contrast between justice and mercy when the repentant thief speaks to Jesus on the cross:
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Even though the thief recognizes his own guilt and how he is being treated justly, he still asks Jesus for mercy. I wonder if, like all the other people, he had an earthly kingdom in mind — that he was simply asking Jesus to remember him when He established his kingdom on earth someday. (What faith he showed in a man who was dying on a cross next to him!)
Regardless, Jesus gave him far more than he had asked. The thief would not only be remembered, he would be with Jesus. And this would not take place at some distant time in the future, it would be that very day. What grace and mercy Jesus showed to this sinful and dying man! May we have faith as strong as his. Praise God for the grace that we never deserved!