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                                 THE PENITENT THIEF ON THE CROSS

In the matter of the penitent thief on the cross, the Father revealed the Christ to him --just like he did to Peter ...

"He [Jesus] said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

And Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal {this} to you, **but My Father who is in heaven.**

"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon THIS ROCK I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it." Matt 16:15-18 (NAS)

"THIS ROCK" means believing that Jesus is The Christ. Only those who have been **begotten by God** are able to recognize Jesus as their Saviour and Lord.

The Father had given the thief gifts of faith and repentance! Now, we will see how the thief had a living faith that produced works in that compressed period of time before he died.

1. He encouraged the other thief to "Fear God".

"One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, [Jesus] 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"? Luke 23:39-40 (RSV)

To "Fear God" is to morally revere God: "Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Eccl 12:13 (KJV)

2. He acknowledged his sins ...

"And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss." Luke 23:31 (KJV)

3. He called Jesus Christ "Lord", believed in the resurrection and he wanted to enter the kingdom:

"And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." Luke 23:42 (KJV)

"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Rom 10:9-10 (KJV)

On the day of judgment, all men will be justified or condemned by the choices that they make --whether they have the opportunity to do the deeds --or not.

(Certainly, the penitent thief did not have the opportunity to be baptised.)
"For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Eccl 12:13 (KJV)

For example, in the matter of adultery when Jesus said:

"But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman TO LUST after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Matt 5:28 (KJV)

In that case, even though the man did not DO the deed, he had the INTENT to do it if he had the opportunity. Jesus is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, whether the secret choice is good or bad. In the case of the thief on the cross, he had the INTENT to obey God but lacked the opportunity to do it. Jesus said to him: "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Luke 23:43 (KJV)

Harold and Donna Kupp

References: Luke 23:32-43

"...for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every plan and thought. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, he will cast you off for ever." (1 Chronicles 28:9)

Dear Reader,

When I was writing about the penitent thief, I was impressed at how his experience could be an encouragement to handicapped people who sincerely love the Lord.

For example, a person who is unable to speak will be judged by the INTENT of his heart. (He would confess the Lord Jesus Christ with his mouth --if he could talk; etc.)

Creation date: Jun 24, 2012 7:13am     Last modified date: Jun 29, 2016 1:25am   Last visit date: Jun 9, 2024 6:33pm
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