“Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you,
today you shall be with me in Paradise.’”
For people who do not go to church, the story of the repentant thief is somehow know by them. It seems there are certain details of our Lord’s life that people who do not own a Bible still know about.
At the beginning of the time the two thieves and Jesus were on the crosses, both thieves started talking to Jesus and asking that He rescue Himself and them. They had heard the jeering mob at their feet taunting Jesus by telling Him that if He got Himself off the cross they would accept His message.
For reasons not explained in the story, one of the thieves stopped asking for an escape from his sad situation. Instead he rebuked his partner in crime and then spoke to Jesus asking to be “remembered” when Jesus came into His kingdom. Jesus answered with the words of our text.
What is so remarkable about the conversion of the repentant thief is the situation at the time of his repentance. As far as we are aware, the man had never seen Jesus before. Therefore the man sought Jesus as seen as he came near to Him. Both his first time to seek Jesus and his dying were on the same day.
Then we note the tragic sight the man had of Jesus. There was never a moment in our Lord’s earthly life that He looked so despicable, weak, and powerless.
Jesus’ physical appearance was brutal and bloodied from the savage beating and flogging He had endured. As Isaiah 52:14 tells us, Jesus ceased to look human so vicious was His punishment.
Then there was the jeering mob at the foot of His cross. He was indeed despised and rejected. No one appeared to desire Him except the repentant thief. He never looked so helpless. Why would anyone turn to Him for help? Further, who would imagine He had a kingdom in the future over which to reign?
When a Jew spoke of “remembering”, the person meant more than mere recollection, or bringing someone to mind later on. What the man was really asking for was that sometime in the future Jesus would make him a part of His kingdom.
Only God could have opened the dying thief’s eyes to see the eternal glory of Jesus at such a moment. This poor man reached out to Jesus when both of them appeared weak and unable to help themselves or anyone else.
You are not a condemned criminal like this man but you may find yourself like him in being alone, unwanted, even deprived of health and financial resources. Do what this man did. Come just as you are, without anything to offer Him. He waits to hear from you. Will you come today?