171. The penitent thief on the cross- Luke 23:39-43
-“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise (A place of blessedness above the earth, the same word is used for the Garden of Eden in the Septuagint and indicates complete, intimate, and personal restoration and unification with the Father, Luke 23:43).” What better words could a dying man hear from the Savior of the world and the Sovereign Lord? The penitent thief began, as we see in another gospel account (Matthew 27:44), denouncing and ridiculing Jesus, but he was observant and began to spot the innocence of the Man and power of His message that he no doubt had heard before. He was aware of the Kingdom proclamation and the Lord’s eternal value as we can see in his comments (Luke 23:42). This was a confession of faith in Jesus, a fear of the Lord, and a turning away from his personal sins that he owned up to (Luke 23:40). This, as we conclude from this theologically important passage, is all that is required for a man to be saved eternally. Notice what is not required: water baptism, circumcision, obedience to all the Law, self-works, synagogue attendance, etc. What was required was a humble heart change. This was all it took to include this new born saint of the Spirit into God’s Heavenly Kingdom. So then, we can see from the passage even in Christ’s death there are two types of people: 1) those who reject His message with hard hearts, unbelief, selfish-ambition, mocking, and ridicule, and 2) those who with deep contrition receive the gospel and trust in Him for forgiveness and remembrance before the Eternal Judge. *Application* What hope and encouragement this should give all of us who have believed in the One and Only Son of God for salvation! It is never too late while you have breath on this earth to inherit eternal life and be with the Savior forever! Give it all to Him and live! Keep sharing the message of the Kingdom to all those around you for you never know whom the Lord may be saving. In Jesus’ final moments before leaving earth in this incarnation, He was still seeking and saving the lost (Luke 19:10).
Verse to Memorize- Luke 23:43