Advent Daily Devotional - Justice and Forgiveness: Get What You Feel You Deserve

Day 26

Jan Stewart


Day 26 – Thurs, Dec 23

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. ...

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “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.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

(Luke 23:32-34, 39-43, NIV)

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins. ... But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
(Ephesians 2:1, 4-6 NIV)

Today’s Reading: Luke 23

After two years of cancer treatment for my husband, I feel I can relate to the first criminal who questioned Jesus’ power to change his reality as they hung side by side dying on crosses. “Aren’t you the Messiah?” he asked. “Save us!”

I’d like to think that when life gets tough, I will be strong and confident in the Lord. But after the last two years, I realize how weak and fearful I am. I need a Savior every day to forgive me and strengthen me.

Jesus did not deserve to be crucified alongside criminals. He had done nothing wrong. The second criminal recognized Jesus as God who was willing to die to take on Himself the wrongs of sinful humanity. This criminal cried out for forgiveness, asking the Lord to remember him. By all human standards, he didn’t deserve Jesus’ forgiveness. However, this request was all Jesus needed to assure the thief that they would meet each other again that very day — in paradise.

Unable to grasp the extent of your own sin, you may struggle to comprehend the seriousness of what Jesus suffered for your sake. No one deserves Jesus’ sacrifice any more than the thief on the cross did. In fact, we have all earned quite the opposite. As Ephesians 2:3 (NIV) says, “Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”

But like the second criminal, all you have to do is ask Jesus to forgive you to receive the forgiveness He offers — forgiveness you don’t deserve. Jesus is yearning for you to have a relationship with Him. Claim His forgiveness and thank Him for all of His love.

Reflect and Respond

What do you feel you deserve from God? Are you struggling with illness, finances, grief or loss? Turn these over to God and thank Him that He offers forgiveness that you do not deserve.

If you’ve never asked Jesus to come into your life and forgive your sins, there is no better time than the present.

Jan Stewart
works as a writer for Cru® in Orlando, Florida. She enjoys playing pinochle with her husband, Mark, and taking her border collie, Shadow, on walks. She’s passionate about finding and sharing inspiring stories about how people experience God’s love.

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