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Did the Repentant Thief Get Off Easy? — 26 Comments

  1. Amen, I'm wondering to see how this other thief was looking for miracle so he may believe in Jesus,
    When the great miracle of salvation that the heavens ever sent was right near him and he unfortunately missed the mark!

    • Lebon, both thieves “railed” against Christ to show or prove Himself Messiah by saving Himself and themselves also. That was the Messiah that both expected, wanted... God saved one!

  2. Yes, I love Jesus very much and I know I’m a sinner and He saved me. The thief understood Jesus’s love even for him a reched sinner and he also declared Jesus’s righteousness to the other thief. So one was taken and the other was left. That’s how it will be just before Jesus comes as King on his beautiful white horse to claim His Bride.

  3. The text in Romans 10:13 &Joel2:32 , one must wonder is that conditional, with no strings attached? If this a promise it sounds to good to be true.

  4. The thief confessed great faith in the forgiveness of God and kingdom to come while the Lord he confessed as the coming King was dying on a cross! No one else, including the disciples, exhibited such faith. This is faith that cannot be shaken, while the hope of all those who had once believed was terribly shaken by those events.

    Can we see why Jesus said "today"? "Today, as I am dying for your sins, YOU will be with me in the kingdom to come that will never pass away." Of all days, THIS was the day that made this promise sure, as Daniel has written about so long ago! Without THIS day, there was no kingdom or hope of forgiveness. Jesus was making the way secure for all who would receive Him and believe on His name. He was providing the security for their hope: His own blood as the great propitiation for their sin, if they would only repent in faith.

    • Would you say then, after the thief heard Jesus confirmed the thief on His right in His kingdom, if this thief had believe after hearing that statement he would have been saved too right?

      • "...that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life" is what the Bible tells us. Repentance is the fruit of faith, which will allow anyone to receive the gift of eternal life.

    • Both criminals knew of Christ’s work and miracles, and had likely heard him as he taught. But now as he listens to the continued taunts of the other thief, the spirit of God opens this criminal’s eyes and heart to truly understand the event of which he is part. This man on the cross rebukes his fellow and then turns to his Saviour, “Remember me Jesus when you come as King!” O amazing, awesome, powerful faith! Looking at the bloodied, beaten, naked Christ, by all appearances defeated and forsaken, this dying criminal sees victory where all others see defeat.

      From the dying Saviour’s lips comes the response, “Truly, I promise you today, you will be with me in paradise.” Amazing, awesome, powerful grace! This faith and this grace put into perspective the small battles and troubles I have faced in my life and call me to exercise faith in the midst of apparent defeat. I thank God for this criminal’s testimony and our Saviour’s gracious response.

  5. For the murderer (think Jericho road thieves who would casually murder those they stole from) on the cross it would have been hard to battle the habits of a lifetime to acknowledge his faults, go against his ingrained bad habits of violence and disregard for life and property, his trained lack of compassion and love, and then change all those habits in the brief time of his meeting with Jesus.

    I think perhaps we are wrong to think for him it was easy. The battle with and against self can be the hardest battle you will ever fight.

  6. The sense that the repentant their got off easy and therefore that something wasn't quite fair so easily arises from within our humanity - or "flesh" as the apostle Paul would describe it.

    That it does illustrates how warped human nature has become as a consequence of sin. But, that is precisely what sin does.

    No wonder we need a total rebirth with a new heart and right Spirit!

    • Yes, and HOW is being crucified easy?! Warped indeed.

      If we could observe that scene as the bible describes it, and comprehend the reality of it, none of us would choose the circumstances which the repentant thief faced. Just imagine the humility he had to accept to acknowledge this "savior" who was being ridiculed by the leaders of the nation, abandoned by His followers, condemned by the state, and seemingly cursed by God Himself. How many of us would exhibit such hope and faith under those circumstances? Few exhibit such in much better circumstances.

      But...doesn't every sinner "get off easy" because of the Gospel? How merciful and gracious is our Redeemer?

      Every soul, including that thief, who will one day cast their crowns at the feet of Jesus will tell you: "I got off so easy!" when they behold the prints of the nails and the scars from the thorny crown on their beloved Redeemer, who died that He might spare them the terrible woe of God's wrath against sin. Do we love the lost as He does?

  7. As people who bear Christ's name, we are also supposed to take on His character. Our converted hearts will love others the way He does, and consequently, we too will rejoice over every sinner who repents.

  8. The context of Adam and Eve being placed in Eden, or the Angels in heaven, who did not require "hard work" because it was part of God's plan. Created beings who knew no sin, were placed in their locations to give glory to God and to worship the Creator. Unfortunately we are born with a sinful carnal nature with nothing good in us - so it is "hard work" to go through the process of 1. Justification 2. Sanctification and finally the reward for "over comers" 3.Glorification. With Jesus on our side it is all "possible" but it is still subject to 100% surrender of our will. Ephesians 6:12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. We need God's power in this battle and we need to ask Him for His Spirit to help us attain Salvation because James 1:17 states. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Romans 7:14-25 is where Paul gives us an idea of what we are up against. Blessings to all.

      • Harold appears to be talking about "hard work" that reflects the unfortunate but inherent effort involved in 'going against the grain' of our natural tendencies as per, for example, Romans 7:14-25. Jesus described this phenomenon in his reference to a person "denying self and taking up their cross" (Matt 16:24). By way of analogy, think of the "hard work" involved in saying no to a first (as opposed to a second or third) piece of chocolate cake when part of you also really would like to have some.

        William appears (though correct me if I am wrong) to be talking about a hard work/ing that is done in an effort to try and earn something.

        Is working and earning always the same thing? Or is it the MOTIVE behind the working that is the real issue? How I answer these questions will influence whether I 'throw the baby out with the bathwater' (an old German proverb) or not.

        I only comment here because I believe this issue has caused, and continues to cause, much misunderstanding within Christianity.

    • "Romans 7:14-25 is where Paul gives us an idea of what we are up against."

      Yes....IF we are not abiding in Christ, whom Paul states clearly, could deliver him/us from "the body of this death"(vs 24). What follows in Romans 8 is the alternative struggle, which is over self-surrender, not sin. When surrendered fully to the Lord by denying self, there will be no struggle to fulfill the righteousness of the law(Rom 8:4). So our greatest battle is with self, and remaining subjected always to Jesus, instead of trying to "be good enough" by ourselves, which is not only difficult, but impossible(John 15:5). Through being yoked together with Christ, we can do all things(Matt 11:28-30, Phil 4:13), as His yoke is easy and the burden, light.

  9. Hi William. How richly blest l am by your posts. I thank GOD for them. Out of interest what is your explanation and/interpretation of Matthew 7:13, 14 in the light of salvation which states that many go through the wide gate and along the broad way BECAUSE the other gate is strait and the way is narrow.
    I guess it boils down to the age old argument of whether it is easier to be lost than saved.

    • Thank you for your kind words Marcia. In Matthew 7:13-14 the word "difficult" has a note in the margin that translates the word to "confined." Confined or narrow does not have to be hard. When Jesus said it is hard for a rich man to be saved, that is only because the rich man does not want to give up all his riches to fit through the narrow way.

      Here is an archived post where I explain further your question about it being easier to be lost or saved. https://ssnet.org/blog/easy-to-be-saved-hard-to-be-lost/

  10. How many people do you know died precisely from breaking or fracturing their legs.
    The legs of the thief were broken. Reason? It was Friday and no dying people or corpse should be exposed publicly on the Sabbath day. That was according to the Jew laws.

    The Romans want a slow and painful dead and that’s precisely why the use of the cross. It make no sense to kill the thief hanging on the cross. Doing so, is to negate the precise point of using a cross for a torturously slow dead.

    A compromise is reached and both parties are happy: Break their legs, and dump the body in the *Gehenna (a place outside Jerusalem where garbage were dumped and a constant smothering fire is always burning something -very slowly. This fire is not with huge flames, but tiny flame here and there consuming slowly whatever finds)

    Breaking the legs assures that the thief cannot walk away from the *Gehenna. Roman law prohibited with dead penalty, any one assisting a human dumped in the *Gehenna.

    The thief still continues with the process of dying slowly and in great pain once dumped in the *Gehenna. ....And here is my point:

    Jesus told the thief: “I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise” How many hours, or days the thief still alive in the *Gehenna? We don’t know. One thing is sure; his faith is tested to the utmost to hang on the promise Jesus gave him. “Without faith it is impossible to please God”

    The fetid smell, the slow burning, the unhopeful situation didn’t matter to this thief if he kept strong his faith on Jesus’ words. I think this thief got it hard to keep his faith strong while he laid in the *Gehenna. Even tho he may doubt here and there, we know he is saved because Jesus said so (Hint: last days Jacob trouble)

    In many ways we “romanticize” this thief experience. However... God, and only God knows the heart. He saw necessary for this thief to experience his true faith after he accepted Jesus. I want to suggest that there are way more lessons for us from this thief -before he became a criminal, and after Jesus gave him the promise of salvation.


    *Gehenna. I know that there is an archeological and theological debate if this place indeed existed. I want to suggest that back then all garbage was organic (no plastic, no tire, no chemical). Ashes have been found, but they claim it could be anything. Ashes can turn into a good soil as well. This valley’s “fire” began when the kings of Judah sacrificed their own children. There is more I could share, but if interested to find out and bring your own conclusion, then do your research. As for me, I conclude Gehenna the place I describe above.

    • The legs were broken not to prevent them walking away. They were broken to cause them to suffocate on the cross within a short time. All died on the cross and we're only removed when dead.

  11. Ian am l missing something? Please explain how one suffocates 'within a short time' from a broken leg? Many thanks in anticipation

    • Crucifixion was not just a matter of hanging on a cross. Essentially you have to expand your lungs to breathe and that difficult to do when your whole body weight is hanging on your nailed wrists. Your feet also nailed to the cross, could help a bit because you could push upwards, allowing your lungs to expand. If your legs were broken, you can no longer push upwards, making it difficult to expand your lungs and you die from asphyxiation. Crucifixion was a very painful punishment. Each breath was paid for in agony.

  12. The thief on the cross confessed his sin - "We are getting what we deserve", he then believed in Jesus as God, and asked for Jesus to remember him, he thus was promised life with Jesus. All we need to do is confess, believe and receive. Then pray the Holy Spirit to guide and He will answer your prayer. We make salvation hard when we strive to be "good" under our own efforts.

  13. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7 NKJV

    The repentant thief was an overcomer. He overcame unbelief.


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