Summary: The story of the dying thief is a perfect example of Christ’s power to save and of His generous willingness to receive all who come to Him, regardless of how good or bad they are. The saving of the dying thief is much more similar to our salvation experie
The Thief That Believed
“And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”-Luke 23:42-43.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON—Luke 23:27-49.
And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 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 23:32-43 (KJV)
The story of the dying thief is a perfect example of Christ’s power to save and of His generous willingness to receive all who come to Him, regardless of how good or bad they are. The saving of the dying thief is much more similar to our salvation experience than it is different. In fact, his case may be regarded as typical, rather than an extraordinary incident. Remember, when Jesus saved this thief, He was in a weak state.
His glory had been flowing away in Gethsemane, and when He stood before Caiaphas, and Herod, and Pilate; but now it had reached its low-water mark. He was stripped naked and nailed to the cross. The vulgar crowd made fun of the Lord, as He was dying in agony. Then He was “numbered with the transgressors”; when His cross was placed between two thieves. Nevertheless, while in that condition, He accomplished this wonderful act of mercy.
Take a look at the miracle produced by the Savior, even though He was emptied of all His glory, and even though He made a shameful spectacle as He hung on the cross, on the brink of death. What greater wonders of mercy can He do today, since His glory has been restored and He is seated at the right hand of the Father?
He is able to save to the uttermost all those who come to God by faith in Him, and He “ever lives to make intercession for them.”
If a dying Savior can save a thief, my contention is, He can do even more now that He lives and reigns. All power is given to Him in heaven and on earth; can anything at this time surpass the power of His grace?
It isn’t only the weakness of our Lord which makes the salvation of the dying thief so unforgettable; it’s the fact that the dying man saw it with his own eyes. Can you put yourself in his place and imagine you are looking at a man who hangs in agony on a cross? Could you believe that He was the Son of God who would soon come to His kingdom? That was not a small faith which could believe in Jesus as Lord and King.
If the apostle Paul were here and wanted to add to the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, where God’s faithful are listed, he would certainly add a passage about this remarkable thief. He would describe the great faith of the thief, who believed in a crucified, ridiculed, and dying Christ, and who called out to Him confident that His kingdom would come.
The thief’s faith was even more remarkable, because he was in great pain, and about to die. It’s not as easy to show faith, when we are in pain, as it is at other times. But this man, even though he was suffering, even though he saw the Savior in such a sad state, he had saving faith. This dying thief had the type of faith that is seldom seen. Remember, this man was surrounded by a crowd that was ridiculing him. It is easy to swim with the current and hard to go against it.