Jesus and Sinners: The Two Thieves

Jesus and Sinners: The Two Thieves

Jesus and Sinners: The Two Thieves.

Please read this story in Luke 23:39-43.

When Jesus was raised on the cross, he found Himself hanging between two thieves on their crosses, one thief on the right and the other thief on His left.  The two thieves might have been similar in their criminal behavior, but it appears their hearts were as different as night and day. Jesus the Innocent One, executed between two thieves, the guilty ones. This fulfilled the messianic prophecy of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53:12. He was numbered with sinners. He let himself be regarded as a criminal. He was counted as one of the rebellious.

The unrepentant thief remained cynical to the end. He ridiculed Jesus. He hurled abuse at Him, sneering such remarks as, What kind of Messiah are you? If you really are the Anointed One, prove it! Save yourself from this fate! And while you’re at it, be our savior and save us too!

Jesus did not respond to the abuse. He never opened his mouth to the thief who was scoffing at Him. He was like a lamb led to slaughter, silent before His foe.

The repentant thief treated Jesus much differently. He even advocated for Jesus by rebuking the other thief. Have you no shame? Have you no fear of God even before you die? You and I deserve this punishment. We were thieves, so we shouldn’t be surprised that this is our fate. But this man does not deserve this. He is totally innocent. What has he done wrong? Nothing. Nothing at all.

The repentant thief saw the sign above Jesus’ head on the cross that declared “This is the King of the Jews.” At that moment he believed that Jesus truly was the King, even if He was a dying King. A mustard seed of faith entered his soul as he pleaded with Jesus, Please remember me when you come into your Kingdom!

That was all the opening Jesus needed to act. Even a hairline crack in the heart was enough for Jesus to offer grace. Jesus responded with, I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in Paradise. Paradise. Heaven. The restored Garden of Eden. The place of rest for the departed in Christ. Jesus promised a new life to the redeemed criminal, a life with Jesus Himself.

Jesus is thrilled to accept faith and repentance whenever it happens, whether in the life of an elderly man on his death bed, or a young girl in kindergarten class. The angels will rejoice over one sinner who repents, no matter when that repentance takes place. That day, at that hour, the angels were rejoicing over the cross of that repentant thief.