The Thief on the Cross :: By Rick Segoine

Why are the scriptures relating the story of the two thieves being crucified on either side of Jesus so important? (Luke 23:32-43).

Well, it shows how someone, no matter what they have done, if they truly believe in Jesus with a sincere and repentant heart, can be saved even in the last few minutes before they die. That is an awesome thing to know.

It is also interesting to note that the thief who received from Jesus what must have been the most comforting words imaginable under the circumstances was not required to do anything at all other than believe in Jesus with a contrite and repentant heart.

Imagine his relief when he heard the Messiah, the Son of God, say to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

As a side note, this article is not about the placement of the comma and whether it is before or after the word today.

That is another discussion and a very interesting one. Many an article has been written about the placement of that one little comma.

No, this article is about the simple act of truly believing in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The one thief mocked Jesus, and the other thief believed that Jesus had the power and authority to save him, and he said so. He even defended the innocence of Jesus and rebuked the other thief for his mockery.

He believed with his heart and declared it in front of all the witnesses gathered there at Calvary. The penitent thief did this without the benefit of Romans 10:9-10 which, of course, came later after Saul became Paul and said, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

The saved thief did this even before Jesus had died and was raised, so great was his “belief” in Jesus.

The repentant thief followed the truth which John 3:16 declares. “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whosoever “believes in Him” shall not perish but have eternal life.” [Emphasis mine]

The penitent thief, like the other thief, had not lived a very nice life. He had robbed people and very likely hurt people physically in the process. And yet, as his life was ebbing away, at the very end of that wretched, unrighteous life, in the closing minutes, he believed and was saved for all eternity.

There was no time for him to go to church, get baptized, pass out tracts, tithe, study scripture, or do any good works of any kind other than chastising the other thief.

Once saved, those are all good things to do, and there are many more as well. The point being that none of those things are requirements for salvation. Jesus and the grateful repentant thief demonstrated that as they each hung upon a cross that unforgettable day upon the hill called Calvary.

It is not God’s will that any should perish, and so He made salvation as simple as possible. (2 Peter 3:9) and about 100 other scripture verses.)

I believe the reason He made it so simple is because His grace really and truly is amazing, and His mercy actually does overflow like a fountain. Also, He absolutely does love us that much, even when we have done nothing to deserve such love.

It is worthwhile to recall this story about the repentant thief when we find ourselves feeling unworthy or that our salvation is in jeopardy because we feel we are not doing enough to please the Lord.

Number one, it is the evil one who accuses us before our Lord and attempts to lay a burden of guilt upon us (Zechariah 3:1-2; Revelation 12:10).

Number two, if you, or if I, truly believe that Jesus is who He says He is and has the power and the authority to save all who believe, then like the thief on the cross, we are saved.

Everything else we do for the Lord is wonderful, and yet, even if we do nothing else but believe with all of our hearts, we are saved for all eternity, and our precious Lord and Savior promises that not even one of us shall be, or even can be, lost out of His arms (John 10:28-29).

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” Jesus is talking about you and about me. This makes me cry. My heart is overflowing with gratefulness right this very minute as I attempt to continue typing.

Salvation is secure in the incomprehensible overflowing mercy of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Don’t ever let anyone, especially the wicked one, tell you otherwise.

John 3:17 continues by defining Our Heavenly Father’s purpose for sending His Son, saying, “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”

In Matthew 18:2, Jesus says that we must “become as little children” in order to enter the kingdom of God. The simple faith of a child. Not in any way complicated.

That is exactly how the thief on the cross next to Jesus expressed his belief that day.

Lord, I praise you and thank you with all of my heart for your overflowing mercy and amazing grace. I pray that many who do not yet know how blessed it is to believe in you will invite you in to be their Savior this very day.

Soon, the Lord will call His loved ones’ home, so while there is yet time, believe in Him as did the thief on the cross, like a child.

May the blessed heavenly tears of overwhelming thankfulness flow from your eyes as you rest in the arms of our most precious Lord and Savior.

Your friend in Him, Rick Segoine


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