Word Two / 2011 / Face Down / by Dusti Jensen & Steve Whitby


Luke 23: 39-43 “One of the criminals hanging there threw insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ The other one, however, rebuked him saying: ‘Don’t you fear God? Here we are all under the same sentence. Ours, however, is only right, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did; but he has done no wrong.’ And he said to Jesus, ‘Remember me Jesus, when you come as King!’ Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you this: Today you will be in Paradise with me.’”

When I went to write “Face Down” I was moved by the second criminal. There he was, hanging to die, and he knew exactly what he deserved. He believed he deserved death for what he had done. He had broken the laws, messed up, gotten caught, and he owned it. So much so, he even confronted the other criminal’s mockery of Jesus, confessed his guilt, and asked Jesus to remember him, all while expressing his belief that Jesus really was innocent and the King. He accepted his sentence, death on a cross, and humbled himself enough to recognize his guilt and ask for the gift of Paradise that Christ offers.

It made me think about how I view what I “deserve.” I commonly misuse it like I am entitled, or to justify my poor decisions. It’s like I think I should get rewards for good, expected, normal behavior, or have permission to indulge in something that’s not best because I worked hard. Isn’t a strong, healthy body reward enough for my consistent workouts rather than the “bonus” desserts I feel like I earned? So if this is misusing it, what do I really believe I deserve? How should I use this word?

I don’t know all these mens’ wrongs in Luke, but I know the weight of my own sin. I try to do what’s right, yet I still twist it up. I believe I am lost on my own and not so different from these criminals. I am not entitled to good things or more things because I work hard, I am no special snowflake that’s allowed to get away with poor decisions more than anyone else, and I am not promised to escape pain and hardship because I follow Christ.

Truth is, without Christ, I believe I deserve death too. I was prompted to humble myself as that criminal did and view life as the gift it truly is. God doesn’t owe me a thing, but He’s decided to gift me what I don’t deserve, eternal life, because of Jesus.

Now leave it to Jesus to make it even better than that in this story: It’s not too late. He let that criminal hand his sins over while they hung on their crosses in their final hours, taking on a guilty man’s burden, so that the criminal could go to Paradise and be free. The criminal didn’t spend his whole life following the rules, sharing the love of God, or being moral … and maybe he wasn’t even nice, but it still wasn’t too late for him. Doesn’t that show us how broken our ideas of works earning us rewards or eternity are? Life with Christ is actually all about receiving a gift. A free one. Anytime. One you can’t earn. An eternal one that’s quite opposite of what we really deserve.

The good news for us is that we can learn from this criminal. It’s never too late for us either. Even now. No matter how old we are. No matter what we’ve done. Now that’s worthy of writing a song about. I hope you’ll journey with us through our song inspired by a criminal.

But I really hope you’ll join me in signing up for what we don’t deserve.

Lyrics

Lord have mercy on my soul
my whole life i’ve never known
your love could come and rescue me
your love could come and set me free

Lord have mercy on my life
is it too late to make it right?
your love could come and rescue me
oh lord, please remember me

‘cause i am face down in the water
no hope for my soul
but if you call me your daughter
and make my heart whole
i’ll be free
remember me

Lord have mercy on my heart
oh i hate the poisoned parts
your love could come and wash me clean
oh my god don’t forget about me!

‘cause i am face down in the water
no hope for my soul
but if you call me your daughter
and make my heart whole
i’ll be free
remember me

when you come as King
please remember me
when you come as King
please remember me

‘cause i am face down in the water
no hope for my soul
but if you call me your daughter
and make my heart whole
i’ll be free
remember me

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