What’s the message of the thief on the cross?

By Paul Hammons
July 15, 2018

In Luke 23, we read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, including a series of events that are unique to this book. Here, we read the story of one thief’s reaction to Jesus’ suffering, his conclusion that Jesus was in fact the redeemer of Israel, and his request to Jesus to “remember when you come into your kingdom.”

In many ways, this expression of faith is unmatched in scripture, because the man expresses a faith in Jesus despite the fact that he knew Jesus was about to die along with him and his fellow criminal. Jesus responds by telling him that “today you will be with me in paradise.”

While this passage is often used to model how people are saved today, the point of this story appears to be that we can see the type of faith that we need if we put our trust in Christ. However, the passage is not intended to contradict other passages about what the Lord requires of us in order to be saved. It simply teaches us that Jesus can save us in whatever way he chooses – but it’s still Jesus’ choice how that happens, and not ours!

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