He was a particularly evil, nasty, disagreeable human being. He verbally abused all those who tried to help him. He lived a sinful, depraved lifestyle and wreaked havoc on those closest to him right up until he died. He deserved to die a slow, painful death and to be cast into the depths of Hell – but if he called upon the name of the Lord Jesus with his last dying breath, he would be sharing Heaven with me some day.
This isn’t a made for TV Lifetime movie with a happy ending. I’m actually talking about the man my mother married when I was 12. This man single-handedly destroyed mine and my sibling’s childhoods as well as my oldest daughter’s. He was responsible for sending my mother to an early grave and lived for 13 long years after her death, spewing hatred and squandering everything she’d worked hard to acquire. Yet, the Word of God tells me I’m to pray for him and forgive him as Christ has forgiven me. (Ephesians 4:32)
In Luke 23, the gospel gives the account of Christ’s crucifixion. One of the criminals mocks Jesus saying:
“So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!.”
“But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:39-43
This story reminds us that criminals – yes even particularly wicked sinners like my step-father --can get a “get out of jail free” card if they call on the name of Jesus, even though we think they don’t deserve it. This card isn’t foolproof though, as no one knows for certain exactly when they will die and if they’ll have even that split second to call on the name of Jesus.
I made repeated attempts to witness to my step-father throughout his life, practically choking on the words, “Jesus loves you and died for you.” I have forgiven him for what he perpetrated upon me and my family and asked God to have mercy upon him – yet … his eternal resting home will remain a mystery. Only God knows what’s in a man’s heart and whether there is forgiveness or repentance there.
The mortality rate still stands at 100%. We must all stand before the Lord one day. Use your “get out of jail free” card today and call upon the name of the Lord so that you might be saved!
"Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved." Romans 10:13 (NLT)