Watch Aaron in the film Holy Wars

Monday, December 21, 2009

The thief on the cross--What saved him?


I've been thinking about the story of the thief on the cross. I've heard people say that they don't believe in deathbed conversions. For many, it seems unfair that a person can live their whole life lying, stealing, cheating or--insert your favorite sin here--and make it to heaven all because of a last minute prayer. And yet, that seems to be exactly what happens in this story. It's important to note that before this story begins, the same thief is on the cross mocking Jesus (Matthew 27:44). So we know that some time after the thief has been hanging on the cross next to Jesus, he has a change of heart. Here's the story as recorded in Luke 23:38-42:

And an inscription also was written over Him in letters in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS JESUS KING OF THE JEWS. Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, 'If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.' But the other, answering, rebuked Him saying, 'Do you not even fear God seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this Man has done nothing wrong.' Then he said to Jesus, 'Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.' And Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'


Here's a question that I would love some feedback on:

What saved him?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Counter-question: What saves anyone? Answer: Grace, received by faith in Jesus Christ. If it seems unfair that the thief on the cross gets saved after a life of debauchery and sin, just what are you counting on for your salvation? All those good works you did out of duty? Good luck.

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Thank you Anonymous. I purposefully made the question general to elicit a number of responses. Yours is certainly a valid one.

Anyone else?

Essay said...

Thank you for sharing, I like it worth reading.

The Common Loon said...

He acknowledged his need for a Savior and placed his faith in Jesus.

By the way, is this the first recorded instance of someone praying a "sinner's prayer?"

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Good question. I'm not sure how to answer that because that depends on your definition of the "Sinner's prayer." Another sinner's prayer could be Peter telling Jesus "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man!" or Psalms 51.

Anonymous said...

Thank u for share,very nice post.I'll recommend to others!Looking forward to more better posts!
Looking foruggs online?Here
uggs on sale now!Our ugg outlet store sale uggsfor New Year's Day and Valentine Day!Cheap ugg,which vary in styles,colors,sizes,both classic collections and new arrivals!you can found all uggs at our ugg outlet and enjoy easy order,fast delivery,versatile payments accpted,tax free!

Anonymous said...

Well he wasn't "saved" in the physical sense because all three ended up dying that day. So I assume you mean saved from hell to be allowed into heaven. Jesus does not say what saved him only simply that he would be with him that day in paradise.

Anonymous said...

It needs to be said, NOWHERE does it say that both thieves were mocking Christ, in fact that is something put in by inscrupulous people. What it does states are those around Christ that are tossing the insults along with ONE of the thieves. What makes this theif stand out and assure his salvation is what HE DID that NO ONE, not the discip,les, not the followers...NO ONE did.

NO ONE DEFENDED Jesus, no one said he was innocent in the scriptures. Those that could, ran away. Some of his closest friends didn't stand next to him. Despite being next to him because he had to be...at the end of it, that lone thief did the one thing no one else in the entire world did.

He defended the savior against the condemnation of the Jews, the Romans, the crowd (who could hear him and his rebuke of them and his compatriot) and especially the other theif.

There was only ONE person that defended Jesus...even if it was a theif...and though his words did not set Jesus or himself free in the physical sense...I suppose in the spiritual sense that was the freedom that was truly needed for that robber.

Neal Pollard said...

Something to consider regarding this account. Jesus had not yet died (thus the dialogue between the two). Jesus had the authority to forgive sins on earth (Lk. 5:24). The thief (and Jesus) lived and died under the Old Law. Jesus established the new covenant with His death, burial, and resurrection (Col. 2; Eph. 2; Rom. 7; Heb. 8). So, I think the answer to your question is, "Jesus saved him."
The important question for us is, "How does Jesus save us today?" Starting from His resurrection (Mk. 16:16) through the first gospel sermon (Acts 2:38) through the record of the early church and the writing of the epistles, part of God's plan to save includes baptism. Nothing earns our salvation, but God has the right to command us to properly respond to grace. A proper response includes faith, repentance, and baptism.

Ruben Groenewald said...

We are not saved by works but by grace. Look at Luke 7:50 50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. Another one, Ephesians 2: 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. So you can see we are not saved through works but salvation is a gift from God

Anonymous said...

If then, a proper response is "faith, repentance, and baptism", then where does the GREAT COMMISSION" fit? Is it possible that mankind have a tendecy to complicate the grace of God, just as those who wanted to cast stones at the woman caught in adultery.?

Grace is grace, it is underserved. Read Rom 10:9-10.

Anonymous said...

That's great Neil. As you say Jesus just "saved him" based on his "good work".

Anonymous said...

The thief was saved in defending Jesus by recognizing Jesus had done nothing wrong. In so doing he had obeyed the second commandment of Jesus which is the reason Jesus had to die. Jesus was forced to fulfill his own commandment us.

Anonymous said...

Had the thief the chance to come down from the cross, he would had gotten baptized, the discip@es would had him do it as it is a public announcement that one is a christian within the christian community. He was saved for simp@y believing Jesus, that He was who He claimed to be, the Son of God, I am sure the thief had also heard about Jesus prio his crufixion, about his miracles, etc.