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“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23:42

Listen: Luke 23


Jesus hangs on a cross betrayed, abandoned and beaten. The weight of his own body is slowly sucking away his life. A crowd of mockers gathers to hurl insults. No one seems to be on his side. Then a strange thing happens. One of the men hanging on a cross next to him, in a moment of clarity on the cusp of his own death, recognizes Jesus for who he really is. The criminal knows he’s getting what he deserves; he also knows that Jesus doesn’t deserve to die. He asks Jesus to remember him in the next life. Amazingly, Jesus says, “…today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43b). The criminal executed next to Jesus understood Jesus’ greatness, accepted his own unworthiness and asked for forgiveness. This is the core of the gospel.

Just like that criminal, we need to understand the three core elements of the gospel: Jesus’ greatness, accept our own unworthiness and ask for forgiveness. It isn’t enough to just do one or two of those things. All three are required.

Over the course of this week, we will build out these three core gospel elements—a quick “safety check” on our understanding of Christianity. This check is important because sometimes we assume we have the real Jesus when we actually have a plastic version.


To help you today, pray a prayer like this, “Gracious God, I am both of the criminals next to you on the cross. I can be like the first when I question whether you are really God and don’t want to give myself to you. I’m also like the second and want to be more like him. You are great and I want to live in light of your greatness more often. I know I’m not worthy of your love. I know I need forgiveness. Help me in those times when I start to think I can earn or deserve your love. Help me to regularly confess my sins and ask for your forgiveness.”

Download a printable PDF of the BTW week here.