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COMMUNITY VOICES: The thieves next to Jesus

The book of Luke 23:39-43 speaks of two thieves who had been crucified along with Jesus. Both had gone before a judge and were found guilty of their crimes, resulting in capital punishment.

As Christ Jesus was crucified, each thief was crucified next to him: one on his right and the other on his left. Two men were guilty of criminal activities, yet all three were condemned to die. Jesus was tortured, beaten and whipped beyond human recognition.

One thief blasphemed the Lord and questioning if he was the Christ (Luke 23:39). The other thief strongly rebuked him for doing so against the Lord. He then asked, “Don’t you fear God seeing you’re in the same condemnation?” From this statement, the thief was repentant and said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” It was evident to the Lord the thief was repentant (Luke 23:40-42).

The repentant thief knew about the fear of God, even in his final hours before death. The unrepentant thief, along with the religious Jews, Roman soldiers, and others, were mocking the Lord with intense ridicule and irreverence, showing no fear of God. Those individuals laughed in a sinister manner as Jesus suffered, being in extreme pain, unrecognizable and not looking like a human being (Isaiah 52:14).

The Lord responded to the repentant thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” It’s evident the criminal didn’t ask the Lord to take him to paradise, only to remember him. The Lord saw this man as repentant, not just “sorry he got caught.” Indeed, it is godly sorrow which leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).

You may not be a criminal deserving of capital punishment here on earth. But all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. All have committed crimes against God, and we all deserve to suffer the consequences for our sins. However, Jesus took the penalty for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). In order to obtain salvation on God’s terms, we must obey the gospel and repent for our sins. We then surrender to his will and follow him (Luke 9:23).

Don’t delay until tomorrow when you have the advantage of getting right with God today. He is patiently waiting for you to surrender to him (John 6:37).

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David Vivas Jr. is the pastor at World Harvest International Church in Delano.


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