32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” 
What struck me today was Jesus’ unflappability in the face of insults and ridicule. He doesn’t react or rebuke. He doesn’t get mad or get even. We see this throughout the Gospels. There are times when Jesus gets angry, but never on account of himself. He gets angry with the Pharisees for the treatment of other people and with the temple leaders for the insult to the temple and His father, but never on account of himself. Shouldn’t surprise us, because after all he did teach his followers to turn the other cheek.
But he goes beyond that here and prays for their forgiveness, and even seems to offer His Father an excuse for their behavior, that they don’t know what they’re doing. Taking such a charitable view towards those who are trying to kill him is truly amazing. I have a hard time imagining that this would be my first response in such a situation.
But he goes even beyond this. And this is the point that really jumped out at me. There’s Jesus tortured and hanging on the cross, betrayed, insulted and ridiculed, his ministry rejected by those he came to save – and then the criminal next to him shows himself to be a person of peace. The criminal shows an openness to Jesus. And what does Jesus do? He ministers to the criminal, assuring him of salvation.
So this is the point: Jesus let nothing get in the way of an opportunity to minister to a soul in need. Think of any excuse we might come up with for avoiding ministry, failing to care for someone, not being a witness – none of our excuses is going to compare with what Jesus was going through as He hung on the cross. Jesus not only doesn’t react badly to insults and ridicule (and torture and execution), he keeps right on ministering, loving, forgiving, caring for the people around him.
So my prayer is simply “Jesus make me more like you, not letting any excuse get in the way of being your representative today, your hands and feet and voice.”
 The New International Version. 2011 (Lk 23:32–43). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.