But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?” – Luke 23:40
It would seem to me that a death row inmate would not need to be reminded of what lies in his or her future. The crime has been committed, judgment has been pronounced, all that remains is the carrying out of the sentence. Death is inevitable. The only hope for a person on death row is the existence of a judge who might overturn the previous sentence, a “supreme” judge who has the power to pardon.
Two criminals hung on crosses next to Jesus. One was blind to Christ’s identity and hurled insults, but the other could “see” who was hanging next to him and begged for mercy. One thief received eternal freedom, but the other remained eternally condemned. What was the difference?
The man who begged for mercy saw Jesus and believed that He was and is “Supreme.”
He came the first time to die; He is coming again to raise the dead. When He came the first time, they questioned whether He was King; the next time the world will know that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. The first time He wore a crown of thorns; the next time He will be wearing a crown of glory. The first time He came in poverty; the next time He is coming in power. The first time He had an escort of angels; the next time He will come with tens of thousands of His saints. The first time He came in meekness; He is coming again in majesty. – Adrian Rogers