Before we look at this wonderful passage, let’s read Matthew 27:39-44: “And those that passed by blasphemed Him…If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross…Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said…‘Let Him now come down from the cross and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, I am the Son of God’…Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing” (NKJV). Now let’s consider Luke 23:39-43: “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

I trust it is obvious why I cited the passage in Matthew 27 first, for there we saw that BOTH ROBBERS joined in with the mocking crowd and blasphemed the Lord Jesus. But in our verses in Luke 23 we see that a radical change had taken place in the heart of one of the robbers. What was it that caused such a change of heart? We have no doubt that it was what the Lord Jesus said in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Those words penetrated the heart of the thief, a heart that was hardened by sin. The Savior’s tender words caused him to look at himself in an altogether different light, and they gave him a view of the Lord Jesus that resulted in forgiveness and the promise that he would be in paradise that very day. Let’s take a closer look at what he now saw through the eyes of faith.

  1. He saw HIS SIN AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. We know this from his words of rebuke to his fellow-robber, for he said, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And WE INDEED JUSTLY, FOR WE RECEIVE THE DUE REWARD OF OUR DEEDS.” In those few words he was confessing he was a sinner and that his sins deserved to be punished. Has my reader seen and confessed his/her sin?
  1. He saw CHRIST’S SINLESSNESS. He realized, by faith, that this was no mere man hanging on the central cross, but a SINLESS Man. This is manifested in his words, “But this Man has done nothing wrong.” It is a wonderful revelation to the soul when we see that Jesus Christ is the Holy One who is without sin. I would encourage the reader to look up 2nd Corinthians 5:21; 1st Peter 2:22 and 1st John 3:5.
  1. He saw CHRIST’S DEITY. He was also made to see that besides being a sinless Man, Jesus was the Lord of Glory! This is evident when he said to Jesus, “Lord.” My prayer is that some reader of these lines will see and confess that Jesus is Lord. If you do, listen to God’s promise to you in Romans 10:9, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
  1. He saw CHRIST AS SAVIOR. After calling Jesus “Lord,” he said, “Remember me when You come into your kingdom.” Again, think of the radical change that occurred in this man’s heart, for he started out reviling Christ and within minutes he now looks to the Jesus to save him! The fact that he mentions Jesus coming into his kingdom reveals that he believed He would rise from the dead and return to earth to set up His Kingdom. What faith! Does my reader believe Jesus rose from the dead (read again what we saw earlier in Romans 10:9) and that He’s coming again?

The thief’s faith was rewarded with those blessed words of assurance, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” We can say that “he got much more than he asked for,” for he was hoping for a place in Christ’s future kingdom but the Lord took him to heaven later that day. These words are just as true today, for if any sinner will confess their sins and turn to Christ for salvation, they can be absolutely assured that they will be with Christ in heaven the moment they die. The apostle Paul said in 2nd Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be ABSENT FROM THE BODY AND TO BE PRESENT WITH THE LORD.” He echoed this same precious truth in Philippians 1:21 & 23: “For to me, to live is Christ, and TO DIE IS GAIN…For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire TO DEPART AND BE WITH CHRIST, WHICH IS FAR BETTER.”  (213.1)  (DO)