In Luke 23:39-43 of the Bible, the scriptures discuss two thieves hanging next to Jesus on the day of His crucifixion. They were both guilty of their crimes, but they both took totally different approaches to their encounter with Jesus. Jesus who was innocent of all charges, but was taking on all of our sins.
We read in Luke 23:39, where one of the thieves looks at Jesus and mocks him by saying, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us! This man who was guilty of his crimes, approached Jesus with contempt and doubt. How many times have we done that in our own lives? How many times have we challenged Jesus to prove himself for our benefit? Yet, Jesus never becomes angry. He never retaliates. Jesus just loves. He continues to show patience.
In Luke 23:40, we see the second thief takes a totally different approach to his encounter with Jesus. This thief is just as guilty as the first thief. Yet, he humbled himself before the Lord of Lords. The second thief rebukes the first thief saying, “Don’t you fear God, he said, since you are under the same sentence? We are being punished justly for our crimes. Getting what we deserve. But this man (Jesus) has done nothing wrong.” Then we read in Luke 23:42, the second thief turns to Jesus and says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into you kingdom.” This man could have been like the first thief and mocked Jesus. But he realized who Jesus truly was in that moment. We do not know a lot about this thief, but we know he admitted to his poor choices in life. In that moment this thief knew he needed Jesus. This man probably didn’t have all the scriptures memorized. He probably didn’t know any of the Christianize. He just came to Jesus warts and all. Jesus responds to this thief with the following words in Luke 23:43, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Wow! This verse wrecks me every time I read it.
These two thieves had the same opportunity to come to Jesus. One was more concerned about being saved from his current situation, while the other was more concerned about being with Jesus for eternity. Jesus gives each of us the same opportunities. In Luke 23, Jesus gives us a beautiful picture of the gospel. A true depiction of love and forgiveness.
We are all like the two thieves in Luke 23. We have all sinned. We have all made poor decisions in life. The great thing is, just like the two thieves in Luke 23, Jesus gives each of us the opportunity to come to Him. So, we have a choice to make. Which thief will we choose to be? ~OC