What were they thinking?
Luke 23:39 one of the criminals who was
hanging there railed at him, saying, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself
and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him,
saying, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence of
condemnation? 41 And we rightly so,
for we are getting what we deserve for what we did, but this man has done
nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.”
43 And Jesus said to him, “I tell you
the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
If you are like me you are familiar with this passage from Luke. It tells us
what transpired between Christ and the two thieves he was crucified with. And in
these two men we see all of humanity and their responses to our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ. Let us take a few minutes and look at both of these men.
Let us look at the attitudes of these two men. The first thief is defiant
till the end not willing to admit he is responsible for his actions. Look at the
word “railed” it is the same Greek word we get Blasphemy from. And while this
translation doesn’t quite clearly convey here is that in the original Greek
language this thief was unmercifully insulting and ridiculing Jesus. What state
of soul and mind is it that in the midst of one of the most torturous forms of
death takes his last breaths and hurls insult upon insult on an innocent man
condemned to death? He is without any excuse. We can tell from the second thief
that he very well knew that Jesus was an innocent man being sent to death. He
also refused to admit that he was being justly punished.
Here we see unregenerate humanity. Defiant to the last and yet still wants to
know why God will not do things their way. Saying to God save me and I will
believe you. As we can see from the second thief salvation never comes from our
The first thing the second thief does is rebuke the first thief.
“Don’t you fear God,…” Before we get to
the famous request of this thief, he puts the attitude of the first thief
clearly before us. The first thief was dying and he had no fear of God. In fact
he was so bitter that he did not have an ounce of compassion for an innocently
condemned man. But that wasn’t the attitude of the second thief.
We can see from his responses that he feared God and confessed his sins. He
tells the other thief that they are being rightly punished. Think about the
state of mind of this man. He says that his execution was justified. He was
guilty and deserved the punishment. Now contrast that with the other thief who
insults and seeks escape through what would amount to nothing more than a magic
trick to him.
He fears God, confesses his sins and thirdly he makes a humble request. He
asks Jesus to remember him in paradise. When we look at this from the idea of
what a thought of remembrance is, it strikes me at how humble and small this
request is. But as he has done all the time God goes above and beyond.
“I tell you the truth, today you will be with
me in paradise.” And with this statement we have the rest of
humanity, those who are saved by Christ. These are the ones who are now and
those who will be with Christ in paradise.
Where do you fall? Which thief are you? If you are the second thief then rest
easy and no matter what the circumstance the God who saved you will never forget
you and you will be with him in paradise. If you are the defiant thief then I am
here to plead with you to surrender before it is too late. If not then God will
not remember you nor will you be with Him in paradise.