Jesus was hung on the cross between two thieves. The second statement Jesus made on the cross was to the thief “Today you will be with me in paradise.” In one of the greatest acts of compassion on a deathbed confession, Jesus tells the thief that he will be in heaven with him.
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
From Death to Life
We don’t know what these thieves stole to be hung on the cross. Rome only hung the worst of offenders on the cross. It was usually political dissidents who tried to stage a revolt. Whatever the case these guys were dying with Jesus. One thief looked at Jesus and demanded that Jesus save them. The other thief looked at the first thief and confessed his sins and proclaimed Jesus’ innocence. He just asked that he would remember him in his kingdom. Jesus took this confession and turned it into salvation.
What can we learn from this thief? The first thing is that at any time we can give our lives to Jesus. It was the last minute for this guy, but it doesn’t have to be for us. We can do it right now. When we do give our life to Jesus, we are guaranteed eternity with him in heaven. This should give us hope for those we know who don’t follow Jesus. Keep witnessing to them.
The second thing we can learn from this thief is that Jesus has great compassion for those who are lost and going to hell. He didn’t condemn what the first thief said. Instead, he looked at the second thief and offered eternal life. That life is offered to everyone who calls on the name of Jesus. When we call on him, we will hear the same thing the thief heard, “You will be with me in paradise.”