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Christ and the Good Thief
by Titian


Luke 23:39-43


39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”   40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

‘Thief’ isn’t always the best translation for the other people crucified with Jesus.  The term ‘lestai’ also mean ‘rebel’ or ‘revolutionary’: a non-conformist.  Barabbas was a ‘lestai’ just as these two are.  It can be an evil person, or a freedom fighter.  Jesus was crucified with other would-be liberators who broke laws.  Is it possible that one thought ‘the means justify the ends’, while the other genuinely meant well, but ended up drawing too much attention?  Regardless, one clearly mocked Jesus, and the other desired to honor God.  The promise from Jesus to go to heaven is not about perfect morality, or great theology: Jesus promised that if you know Him, heaven is yours.  

He knows His own: If your heart longs for things to be set right, even if it requires your humility, Jesus would call you His friend. Are you His friend?  How can you know him more?


Let’s Pray
as One.

Jesus, I am a ‘thief.’ I know I am not perfect, but you are kind, and desire that I know life.  Your free gift of life and eternity with you and your people isn’t contingent on my morality or theology – it’s about your generosity.  Help me to be generous like you.  Help me to trust your generosity that gives me confidence to claim you as my friend and justification. Show me your friendship as you did that man on the cross.  Amen.

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