Sometimes we get so caught up in witnessing to others about Jesus, that we forget the whole scene of Jesus on the cross in the middle of 2 thieves, to me this is a great witnessing point as I will explain below.
Let’s look at the verses first…..
“And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:39-43
It was no coincidence that Jesus was crucified between the thieves on that day, it was very purposely thought out…..how great and understanding our God is to not only show us His love by crucifixion but the mercy He has on us by showing us in the thief who believed…..
I am also of the mind to believe that the humble thief was on Jesus’ right side….as the verse goes with the sheep and goats……
“And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” Matthew 25:33
You see, the thieves actually represent us, all of us, those who believe and those who mock, those who have faith in the Word alone and those who have to see it in order to believe.
Let me explain…. The thief that railed on Christ, is like the unbelievers/mockers, always asking for proof, (when the proof is right in front of them), always mocking not only God but people who believe. This is also another presentation of gnashing of teeth, for he was angry that Jesus wouldn’t save him if he was who he claimed to be. He wanted to be saved, but he wanted to be saved his way. He didn’t want to have to confess that he was in the wrong and deserved punishment and therefore have to not only ask for forgiveness but believe in Jesus to be saved…..
How many people today say these things; they are angry with God for not saving them, even though, they never asked, or never believed.(they mock God in their words and deeds) Yet they hope or believe they will still go to heaven. How many of them mock Him and us, crying ‘proof, give me proof!’, when they are the proof, not only in being alive, but even in their mocking, they are fulfilling scripture. There is proof all around, they just refuse to see it, because then they have to realize that they are unrighteous sinners who deserve punishment…. and they don’t want to face/hear it.
Just like this thief, they don’t want to admit that they are actually scared, scared to die and find out that there really is a God they will have to answer to or a place called Hell. You see, the thief didn’t want to die in that last moment because of this fear and somewhere in him was a small hope that maybe this Man next to him could in fact save him, but in his anger and unbelief, he refused to see that Jesus wasn’t just a Man next to him, He was God incarnate and therefore he lashed out in sarcasm filled with a type of desperation and anger at Jesus. (just like we see today, how many people get angry with God because he doesn’t do what they want Him to do.) He just wouldn’t accept that this man Jesus next to him was God, he didn’t think Jesus was powerful at all, Jesus was just a man. Not realizing that Jesus’ death was the most powerful thing for all those who have faith to believe……
The other thief, he is like saved believers; he knew first and foremost that he was in the wrong and knew he was receiving his just punishment for all he had done. He believed in God (hence him saying, ‘dost thou not fear God’) and he knew that Jesus was undeserving of being crucified because He was hated for what He preached and taught. He knew that men wanted Jesus dead for a reason. I personally believe he put it all together, the rumors he heard about this man Jesus who healed the sick and preached the kingdom of God, and why these Pharisees and Scribes wanted to crucify such a man…. and he came to the conclusion that Jesus really must be the King or else they would not hate him so. (I imagine he looked on Jesus and saw him for who He really was, the Son of God.) In faith, that what he believed was true, he rebuked the other thief and asked Jesus to remember him.
If you saw a Man who healed the sick, preached the kingdom of God, cast out demons, gave love and compassion to all….hanging on a cross for these things, is this fair? (would you have compassion or hate in your heart?) There are people who would say yes, it is fair, crucify Him, because they didn’t like what he was doing and saying even though in their hearts they knew He was speaking truth…..These same people for centuries have persecuted and killed many Christians…..(even today these people are persecuting Christians on social media, at work, in life all because we preach the gospel, the saving grace of Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God, and that Judgement is coming)….. all because they don’t want to hear it.
This thief became humble and realized his own wrongdoing (sin), and in that one sentence, ‘Lord, remember me in thy kingdom.’ sealed his eternity with Jesus forever. (That’s how great His love is for us)
So we too, as believers, become humble in our realization that we are imperfect, sinful creatures in need of punishment for the sins we commit, but because we turn to Jesus, thank Him for His shed blood, ask Him to accept us as we are, and to save us from ourselves; because we believe in His sacrifice….. He will welcome us into His Kingdom one day.
With God nothing is coincidental and everything is significant. So too the Thieves on the cross……