3/28 Luke 23:43

43 And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

Luke's Gospel is the only one that tells us about the repentant thief. The book of Luke appears to be written after the books of Matthew and Mark, and the book of John was written last. Because of the additional details that Luke and John add, critics say they were embellishing the story. Today, when someone writes a biography and has more details than earlier biographies, we simply assume that the writer found more sources and wanted to give a more complete picture of the person. Why would that not be true with someone as important as Jesus? Luke began his Gospel by telling us that these are eyewitness reports that he carefully investigated (Luke 1:1-4).

Apparently the thieves both mocked Jesus at first, but then one of them, realizing that he was about to die, became repentant. We call this a deathbed conversion. Watching the way Jesus dealt with His suffering and seeing the kindness and forgiveness He demonstrated even from the cross must have touched the thief. Even the centurion that oversaw the crucifixion declared that Jesus must have been innocent (Luke 23:47). The thief realized he was headed for God's judgment and needed mercy. He recognized Jesus was the Lord and asked Jesus to remember him.

Our verse today is Jesus' response to the thief. It has profound theological significance. Jesus knew where He was going. He knew the thief would be there with him that very day. The thief did nothing to earn salvation. He simply asked for mercy. He wasn't baptized. He did not follow his conversion with good deeds, for he couldn't. Jesus' gracious actions in the midst of great suffering testified to the truth of who He is and brought about the conversion of some of those who witnessed His suffering.

Consider: Our words and actions are speaking about our faith, especially in times of difficulty. May the Lord help us to demonstrate the grace and forgiveness of Jesus when we face hardship. Perhaps you might share this passage with those who think they could never be good enough for Jesus to accept them.