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How the criminal entered the Kingdom of God first, without meeting conditions

Armen Hareyan's picture
Jesus and Criminals on the cross

Contrary to all expectations, the first person who entered the Kingdom of God, didn't meet the two most important conditions set by Jesus. How did this happen?

To enter the kingdom of God Lord Jesus put forward two very important conditions.

1. Baptism - "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
" John 3:5

2. Sacrament of Community - "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." John 6:53

Who had baptized the criminal on the cross? Who had given him community? Who had baptized the Holy Apostolic? Did anyone baptize Mary the Mother of God? A new question comes up after those questions: what does it mean to be a true Christian?

Please, don't misunderstand me. The meaning of this writing is not to refuse Baptism and/or Holy Communion. To the contrary, the goal of this writing is to look at these two amazing sacraments from a new angle.

There is one priceless value, without which Love, Baptism and Communion turn into mere external phenomena. Without this priceless value's present in a human being love, baptism and communion simply useless and judgement for a person. On the other hand, if this value is present, love, baptism and communion lead to life. This value is humility.

There can't be love without humility. Without humility Holy Communion will become worthlessly received and will be judgement for a person as we learn from the apostle Paul in his 1st Letter to the Corinthians 11:29. Without a humble life the baptized person can't become worthy of our heavenly Father's good will because God is against the proud, but gives grace to the humble and mic (Jacob 4:6). In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

And now let's look at our selves. How do we treat each other. Pride, fanaticism, constantly judging one another, calling names to those who don't share our faith, mocking others and making fun of those who are weak and not strong. What are we doing? How are we looking down at others. Yet, we are baptized and take communion probably every Sunday.

Here, it's very useful to pause for a moment and remember that Judas also took Communion. In fact, he was one of the first in this world to do that. But you know what happened the next...

Therefore, there is something else here too. There is something that we may not be doing necessarily right and we should stop doing it. Namely, we should stop looking down at other people. Instead of looking down at others, we should look up so that we ourselves stop suffering and causing suffering to others.

Looking down at others causes suffering around us and we should stop that today.

The criminal on the cross didn't look down, he looked up. He looked up to Jesus.

"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23:42), he said to Jesus. I can never enter there because of my criminal life. I am worthy of this judgement because of my criminal works and people like me can never enter into your Holy Kingdom. I have no chance to go there. I lived my life wrong and lost it. But please you remember me. I am not saying take me there when you come because I am not worthy, but at least remember me please when you come.

"Today you will be with me in paradise," answers him Jesus in the following verse and adds "truly, truly I say to you," giving confirming important to His words.

Who, or how many Christians among us have this type of approach to life? In our eyes, we are all righteous. Probably we think that we are so righteous or good that at least we have secured a little corner for ourselves in the Kingdom of God. We don't kill anyone, we don't rob anyone's house, every Sunday we go to church and take Communion. We are baptized. What else is needed?

In the time of Jesus many Pharisees and the servants of the Temple were thinking probably exactly like this. But let's keep remembering that against all expectations it was the repentant and righteous criminal that was first welcomed into the Kingdom of God by Jesus himself.