The thief on the cross–What saved him?

I’ve been thinking about the story of the thief on the cross. I’ve heard people say that they don’t believe in deathbed conversions. For many, it seems unfair that a person can live their whole life lying, stealing, cheating or–insert your favorite sin here–and make it to heaven all because of a last minute prayer. And yet, that seems to be exactly what happens in this story. It’s important to note that before this story begins, the same thief is on the cross mocking Jesus (Matthew 27:44). So we know that some time after the thief has been hanging on the cross next to Jesus, he has a change of heart. Here’s the story as recorded in Luke 23:38-42:

And an inscription also was written over Him in letters in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS JESUS KING OF THE JEWS. Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked Him saying, ‘Do you not even fear God seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’

Here’s a question that I would love some feedback on:

What saved him?

Posted on December 22, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Counter-question: What saves anyone? Answer: Grace, received by faith in Jesus Christ. If it seems unfair that the thief on the cross gets saved after a life of debauchery and sin, just what are you counting on for your salvation? All those good works you did out of duty? Good luck.

  2. Thank you Anonymous. I purposefully made the question general to elicit a number of responses. Yours is certainly a valid one. Anyone else?

  3. Thank you for sharing, I like it worth reading.

  4. He acknowledged his need for a Savior and placed his faith in Jesus.By the way, is this the first recorded instance of someone praying a "sinner's prayer?"

  5. Good question. I'm not sure how to answer that because that depends on your definition of the "Sinner's prayer." Another sinner's prayer could be Peter telling Jesus "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man!" or Psalms 51.

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  7. Well he wasn't "saved" in the physical sense because all three ended up dying that day. So I assume you mean saved from hell to be allowed into heaven. Jesus does not say what saved him only simply that he would be with him that day in paradise.

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