The Criminal Who Needed Christ

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“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” (Mt. 28:19-20)

““Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Mt. 7:1-5

“And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.’” Acts 2:21

“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”” Luke 5:32

One day while I was still located in New York City for my ministry work two of my dogs were walking so fast they almost ran over the man walking in front of us. He turned around with a look on his face that confused me. I couldn’t tell if he was fine with what the dogs were doing and thought perhaps it was funny – or if he was horribly mad.

I apologized just in case, not that I had planned for my dogs to annoy him and not that I was even sure he was angry. I wanted to cover my bases. His response made it clear. He wasn’t altogether pleased. But it quickly became evident it wasn’t just my dogs who had made him angry and who had caused the look on his face that was anything but easy, warm, and pleasant.

Within minutes, he shared with me he had only days before gotten out of an exceedingly long time in prison – for murder. Anyone who knew why he had murdered someone might well have understood and perhaps even sympathized some with his reason for committing the crime that had landed him in prison for so long, but the bottom line is that murder is murder.

And talking to a murderer on the sidewalk of New York City wasn’t exactly what I had planned when I had decided to take the dogs for a walk. So obviously I rushed away from the man as soon as he had disclosed his past to me, right? Wrong.

Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and was raised from the dead for EVERYONE. We are ALL sinners ALL in need of a SAVIOR. ONLY those who repent and believe in Him as Lord, believing He died in our place to bear our sin and sin penalty, truly turning from a lifestyle of sin to God and His ways, are forgiven and given a forever relationship with God.

The ONLY way to heaven and everlasting fellowship with God rather than forever in hell and the lake of fire in torment apart from God is THROUGH Jesus – through faith in Him and a life devoted to Him as LORD.

Jesus died as much for the murderer I met on the street that day as he died for me and for you. The criminal needed Christ just as much as anyone else. And God had placed me on the sidewalk that day with my dogs – in public with other people around in daylight in a relatively safe area – not so I could run the other way in judgment and condemnation and pride and disgust, but so I could talk to the man about the Lord Jesus Christ and pray for Him.

Turns out he already knew about Jesus, but it appeared he may not have truly committed his life to the Lord or that he had made the commitment and was truly following Him. Only the Lord knows where the man stood with Him, but that wasn’t the point.

The point was that I had an amazing opportunity to show the love of Christ, to share the love of Christ, to pray with the love of Christ, and to encourage with the love of Christ, despite the nature of the man’s sin and despite the nature of his past.

Do you have someone in your life who seems beyond hope when it comes to Christ? Or whose sins seem so grievous you figure the person doesn’t deserve to hear about Jesus? Or to be loved and prayed for? Or whom if you’re honest you’ve been judging rather than taking the opportunity to follow the Spirit of God in the way of proclaiming Jesus to that person? Or whom you feel is too far gone to repent and receive Christ as Lord?

Seek the Lord. Wait on the Lord. Follow the Lord. Obviously make sure you’re safe as the Lord impressed upon me I was that day. If God has led you to someone to share about Him, don’t run away with pride, judgment, and condemnation. Stick around and humble yourself and do the job the Lord has given you.

Love, proclaim Christ, explain the Gospel message, pray for the person, encourage the person, point the person to God and the Bible, tell the person about a good Bible-teaching church, put the person in touch with a pastor who sticks to God’s Word and doesn’t stray from it, give the person a Gospel tract or Bible or both, give the person a hug, do whatever the Lord leads you to do.

Be the Lord’s vessel. For the Lord’s glory. In His love. In His strength. For His name’s sake. AMEN!

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