Words From the Cross- Part 2

Both criminals had initially reviled Jesus (see Mark 15:32); yet, we learn in these verses that one thief later asked Jesus to remember him…

Although Jesus was suffering as a criminal, just as the two criminals on each side of Him were, this man understood that Jesus was totally innocent, while both of them were guilty and deserving of their fate. Moreover, this thief recognized that Jesus was indeed “King” just as the words over His head stated—“This is Jesus, King of the Jews” (Mt. 27:3, ) because he said, “when you come into YOUR [emphasis added] Kingdom…” Perhaps this man had heard of Jesus’ teaching and miracles; or perhaps, the actions and forgiving attitude of Jesus powerfully proved that He was the Son of God. Whatever softened this criminal’s heart, the result was, in my opinion, a repentant attitude and words of confession. Confession is aptly defined as “coming into agreement with God about one’s sin”; thus, the thief was agreeing with God that his criminal actions and lifestyle were deserving of punishment.

However, the best part of this exchange is Jesus’ immediate and merciful response, “today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Notice, this man never had a chance to earn any part of his salvation by doing “good” deeds (works), just as we cannot earn our salvation in any way whatsoever (Galatians 2:16). This thief understood Jesus did it all—Jesus earned for us what we could never accomplish; in fact, he witnessed it first-hand! And, the same is true for us today: It is by grace we “have been saved through faith; and this is not [our] own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians. 2:8-9).