Remember the thief on the cross?
He and another man were crucified at either side of Jesus.
In Luke 23:39, the other criminal mocks Jesus:
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!'”
Jesus said nothing to him. But the thief on the cross rebuked him in verses 40–41:
“’Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.'”
Who was the Thief on the Cross?
We don’t know what his life was like. Only that he sinned, made terrible decisions, and was a criminal. Undoubtedly, he caused a lot of pain in his lifetime.
We also don’t know how much theology he understood. How often (if ever) he visited the synagogue. Or if he grew up in a family who served God.
What we know for sure is, at the end, he was humble. He realized he and the other criminal’s sentences were just. They were both guilty and were now paying the penalty. We also know he saw Jesus as more than a good teacher.The thief on the cross saw Jesus as Master, not simply a moral martyr. Click To Tweet
So, in verse 42, he said:
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus gave him an incredible answer.
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
We will meet this criminal who came to Christ on a cross in heaven. It wasn’t about his knowledge. His church attendance. Or even a laundry list of good works.
Jesus responded to his faith.
Our Greatest Enemy
In the end, faith in Jesus alone justifies us before the throne of the Almighty! The same gift of salvation was available to the thief on the cross that is available to you and me.
Now, if this man survived somehow, he would have done many good things. Because faith without works is dead (James 2:26). And this man obviously had a “living” faith.
Above all, the greatest enemy against our souls is unbelief. Jesus battled the villain of doubt to the very end, even with his disciples.
We are eternally equal to this criminal who met Jesus in heaven. Not by our deeds, but by our faith.
Just like Abraham, we are counted righteous by our faith (Genesis 15:6).
Rekindle your gratitude for grace today. Remember that it’s not about you, it’s about Jesus. Revisit this story and understand, without Jesus’ shed blood for us, we are nailed to an eternal cross.
We are equal to the thief on the cross. And this is the very good news we call the Gospel.