LUKE 23:33-43: THE CROSS, THE CRIMINAL AND THE CONFESSION
The cross always divides people, for it shows that we cannot save ourselves. Only Christ can save us. Human nature does not want to accept this unless God changes our hearts.
This passage recounts the crucifixion of our Lord, on a cross, with two common criminals. One reviled him, one asked him for salvation.
On the cross, Jesus died to pay the penalty of our sin. Romans 5:6 tells us that “For while were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (us).”
Jesus did not sin and did not deserve to die. The second criminal realized this, as we see in verse 41: “and we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”
Some people ridiculed Jesus. Others demanded that he demonstrate his power. He would not do anything for these people, for they did not believe in him. He will not perform tricks to get people to believe.
But Christ did respond to the one who came to him in faith. The second criminal said in verse 42 “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.” While others made fun of Jesus by calling him “King of the Jews”, this man recognized Jesus as the king of all things.
Jesus is king of all things. One day he will show this to everyone. In Revelation 11:15-16, an angel proclaims “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” When this world is over, we will see Jesus as the king forever.
Jesus rewarded this man’s faith with salvation. He said “today you shall be with me in Paradise (meaning heaven)”.
Most of the people in this passage, the Roman Guards, the local crowds, one of the men being crucified, did not believe in Jesus as the Son of God and the king of all things. But the one man who did claim Jesus as king of his life received eternal life in heaven from Jesus.
When we say we “believe” in Jesus, it includes believing and accepting his right to be king of our lives. We must follow him and obey him. The Bible tells us in John 3:16 that everyone who does this will have eternal life.