Two men who both lived as though God didn’t exist. They were what I call functional atheists. They may not have said that God doesn't exist but for all intents and purpose He had no relevance in their lives.
Two men who mocked God as He hung before them. “So you’re God? Prove it and then I’ll believe in you.”
Gee how many times have I heard that one?
And then something changed. The spiritual eyes of one of the men was opened (Romans 9:15,16; John 6:44).
Amazing grace that saves one wretch and not another.
“Don’t you fear God?”
The same mouth that just moments before had cursed God, now sought Him out. The same mind that once looked for evidence to deny the existence of God now defended God. Can you imagine? How does that happen? Two atheists on the cross. One moment both are totally self-absorbed. The next moment one of them loses himself in the greatness of his Creator.
How is it that two people can see the same God, consider the same evidence, be exposed to the same love, the same offer of forgiveness, yet only one turns, only one accepts, only one is forgiven.
How is it that two people can have their sins exposed but only one agrees with God’s assessment of his character, while the other calls God a liar, “I’m a good person!” One sees himself in the light of God’s goodness while the other sees himself in comparison to those who are even more wretched. How can such blindness remain? I don’t know.
The two men have chosen completely different ends to their earthly lives. It can be no other way. One chooses to remain separated from God and his wish will be granted - for eternity.
The other sees the hopelessness of his situation and asks the only thing someone in that position can say, “Jesus, remember me . . .” His wish will also be granted - for eternity.
One rejects the forgiveness being offered.
The other accepts and hears, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.”