© 2010 • Hillcrest Church of Christ
by Danny Boggs
The men crucified on either side of Jesus were no petty offenders. The Greek word which Luke used to label these criminals describes men guilty of gross misdeeds and crimes (Luke 23:33,39). They were robbers (Matt. 27:38, Mark 15:37). Robbers punctuate thievery with violence. Their crimes warranted capital punishment. These were the same kind of men who victimized the traveler in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30,36). Both thugs railed at Jesus in concert earlier in the day (Matt. 27:44, Mark 15:32). Perhaps Barabbas, an insurrectionist and a murderer, was scheduled to die between them (John 18:40, Luke 23:19). Were these three men Judea’s James Gang?
Remarkably, while he and Jesus hung on crosses, one of the criminals changed his mind about Jesus and himself. When he cast himself on the Lord’s mercy, Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). William Barclay wrote: “The word Paradise is a Persian word meaning a walled garden. When a Persian king wished to do one of his subjects a very special honour he made him a companion of the garden which meant he was chosen to walk in the garden with the king. It was more than immortality that Jesus promised the penitent thief. He promised him the honoured place of a companion of the garden in the courts of heaven” (The Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Luke, rev. ed., p.287).
What marvelous mercy! If our Lord can forgive that kind of man, He can forgive us, whatever we have done. Seek His mercy with the attitude the thief showed that day and with the action the Lord requires today (Acts 2:38, 22:16; 1 John 1:9).