The Thief’s Predicament

In Apologetics, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved on March 13, 2009 at 3:47 pm

The Thief’s Predicament



(Luke 23:39-46)  Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at Him: “Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment?  We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”  And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.” It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three, because the sun’s light failed. The curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle. And Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit. Saying this, He breathed His last.


First and foremost we see the fulfillment of prophecy as Jesus is on the cross together with the thieves. He has taken the place of Barabbas and is on the cross meant for him. We see in Isaiah the event taking place even to the detail of being treated as a criminal foretold several centuries earlier.


(Isa 53:12 HCSB)  Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as spoil, because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels.


Now let’s see how the event unfolded and what does it take to become a Christian. All the requirements of receiving a personal relationship with God are present and we see their formation here at the cross. Until now we see God in the Temple behind the Holy of Holies, visiting his Spirit on a select few for a short time and he had to withdraw from us till a permanent dwelling was established in our hearts. The thief is not only shown to us for his story but for our hope and realization of our part in salvation we can only ask and receive.


The Thief’s Predicament– he was no doubt in league with Barabbas, the word their as we learned here also meant terrorist or rebel. The three of them had been judged and the sentence was meant to be carried out before Passover so the Jews could see the power of Rome to overcome the rebels. Imagine his shock and surprise when the time came for his sentence to be carried out to see Jesus instead of his leader Barabbas.  No wonder he like the other rebel and the crowd jeered Jesus at first. Here he was ready to die for the cause and anticipating his leader to show his courage to become hero’s of the cause. Now instead of infamy he is being crucified alongside a supposed heretic that thinks he is God in the Flesh. I wonder if he saw his devotion a waste now with nothing to die for. He was without a doubt one of the worst of the worst or else why would be on a cross? Then Jesus who as the scripture states is offering intercession for all Isa 53 reads- “yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels”.  Maybe Proverbs might shed some light on his character, behavior, and lifestyle before this moment.


(Pro 1:10-16 HCSB)  My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded. If they say–“Come with us! Let’s set an ambush and kill someone. Let’s attack some innocent person just for fun! Let’s swallow them alive, like Sheol, still healthy as they go down to the Pit. We’ll find all kinds of valuable property and fill our houses with plunder. Throw in your lot with us, and we’ll all share our money”– my son, don’t travel that road with them or set foot on their path, because their feet run toward trouble and they hurry to commit murder.


 Hopefully we aren’t doing the things listed above but honesty requires us to admit that in some fashion we are just as guilty of robbing God. How have you robbed God?

Not using my spiritual gifts, Accepted glory that belongs to him, Used money and time my way, Ignored reading his word, Half hearted worship or worshiping for show


His predicament as author Arthur Pink puts it” He could not walk in the path of righteousness for there was a nail through either foot. He could not perform any good works for there was a nail through either hand. He could not turn over a new leaf and live a better life for he was dying” (The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross). If we do not see ourselves as helpless as this man we cannot be saved. On the cross next to Jesus he had a change of heart. The only way to know the Savior is to see ourselves like him sentenced to a cross for our rebellion.


The Thief’s Remarkable Faith-Golgotha (which means skull place) was the place of execution for the very worst criminals. It is not a place to meet the most divine man ever to walk the earth. What turned this vicious, ruthless, callous, mean and rebellious man into a believer? What happened that day on Calvary to cause him to turn to Jesus?  We can deduce from the reaction of the Centurion and his own confession he heard Jesus praying over and over- (Luke 23:34 HCSB) [Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”] he saw the ridicule of the crowd as they taunted him (Mat 27:42 HCSB) “He saved others, but He cannot save Himself! He is the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. Imagine his surprise “he saved others? Maybe as they recounted his miracles the thief had to wonder what they mean.  He heard or possibly read the sign (Luke 23:38 HCSB) An inscription was above Him: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Because the High Priest protested about the sign he had to figure there was something to it. Incredibly, God birthed faith in this man’s heart at that moment. He believed at a time when Jesus was entirely helpless to save anyone; if fact he appeared to need saving! When you or I need saving you don’t turn to someone who is in the same predicament as you dying in disgrace for salivation, we typically need someone standing apart from the situation.


What savior would wear a crown of thorns matted with blood? What savior would have his beard plucked out by the roots? His body so emaciated by the scourging he was not recognizable as a man, no that’s not a picture of a savior is it? His hands and feet nailed to a cross barley able to breath, what a pathetic sight. Here is our redeemer, savior and the Son of the Living God. Remember the thief had yet to witness a miracle, no walking on the water, no wine made from water. He hadn’t seen the lame walk, the blind see, the dead raised. Jesus had not yet given up his spirit nor had he ascended, the veil was not yet torn, the earth hadn’t shaken. Yet he was as improbable as it was, he believed. Let’s see the path to salvation as it is described in the scriptures:


Admit your sin and repent (Luke 23:40-41 HCSB) But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.”


Ask for forgiveness and accept Jesus for who he is call on him in the same manner as the thief (Luke 23:42 HCSB) Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” 


Your answer is the same as it has been from that moment till now (Luke 23:43 HCSB) And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”


Barely able to speak justly being punished for his crime, not offering excuses for his behavior, not offering up his good deeds as justification. He asked simply to be remembered not honored when Christ came into his kingdom. His request modest, his attitude humble, his heart open, before the Lord but most of all his faith courageous he is in Heaven for all time and eternity. If the cross is not enough for salvation nothing else can be. We can’t will ourselves to be better, we can’t do enough good works, we can’t get baptized enough, and we can’t do anything else but trust and obey. In that order and like the thief we seek humbly for Jesus to remember us in his kingdom. Some may think I’ll keep living this way then like the thief I’ll just repent before I die. Some think they can have sin and salvation by depending on a death bed conversion as though we have some kind of indication of when we are going to die. This is the folly of all follies when you consider a few realities.


(Gal 6:7-8 HCSB)  Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap,   because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.


(2Co 6:2 HCSB)  For He says: In an acceptable time, I heard you, and in the day of salvation, I helped you. Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation.


The word says now is the acceptable time, if God is God and you aren’t who are you reject his offer of Grace. He will not always offer it so readily.


(Rev 3:19-21 HCSB)  As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent. Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.


(Mat 25:12 HCSB)  “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like 10 virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible. When the foolish took their lamps, they didn’t take oil with them. But the sensible ones took oil in their flasks with their lamps.

Since the groom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “In the middle of the night there was a shout: ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him.’ “Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. But the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ “The sensible ones answered, ‘No, there won’t be enough for us and for you. Go instead to those who sell, and buy oil for yourselves.’ “When they had gone to buy some, the groom arrived. Then those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet, and the door was shut. “Later the rest of the virgins also came and said, ‘Master, master, open up for us!’ “But he replied, ‘I assure you: I do not know you!’


(Isa 49:8a HCSB)  This is what the LORD says: I will answer you in a time of favor, and I will help you in the day of salvation,


(Luke 13:23-25 HCSB)  “Lord,” someone asked Him, “are there few being saved?” He said to them, Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won’t be able once the homeowner gets up and shuts the door. Then you will stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up for us!’ He will answer you, ‘I don’t know you or where you’re from.’


The other thief- both had equal opportunity; both heard the words of Jesus as he prayed for him as well “Father forgive them”. And yet the other thief will be forever separated from his friend. It wasn’t the wickedness, or even their distance from Christ that keep them separate. One called on Christ the other rebuked him. (Luke 23:39 HCSB)  Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at Him: “Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!”

In conclusion if you haven’t decided what to do, who to follow don’t delay. Not everyone has the chance to repent before they die. We don’t know the time of our death unlike the thieves on the cross not everyone has a warning. Millions die unexpectedly without as much as a minute to think about their relationship with God. And more to the point when we reject the gospel while we are healthy and things are going great most reject when things are worse. We tend to blame God for bad times instead of drawing closer to him. I have heard it said if we bow our knee and ask “Your will be done” he grants us our desire. If we stiffen our back and neck and say “My will be done” he responds so be it….


Remember Salvation is simple not easy! The problem is not that salvation is difficult it’s that is untried.


(Act 2:21 HCSB)  then whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.


(Act 2:22-24 HCSB)  “Men of Israel, listen to these words: This Jesus the Nazarene was a man pointed out to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through Him, just as you yourselves know. Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.



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