Is there such a person as a Good Thief? Our Lord Jesus was crucified between two thieves (rebels, criminals) who initially attacked him verbally. One thief, however, repented and asked Jesus to remember him in His Kingdom. This man is known in church tradition as the Good Thief.
This thief is known by various names in church tradition...Titus, Demas, Dismas. All we know for certain about him is his salvation experience. He was on a cross next to The Cross. His interaction with Jesus as they both hung on crosses is revealing in at least 3 ways.
1. Those who would be considered "very" sinful can be saved! Whatever his crime(s) - murder, insurrection or robbery - Jesus still saved him. Paul considered himself the chief of sinners - 1 Timothy 1:15. Manasseh, Judah's most wicked king, found mercy when he repented - 2 Chronicles 33:9-16. We have all sung (perhaps with a glimmer of our own sinfulness) "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a WRETCH like me."
2. There is hope for salvation. This thief had reached the end of the road. Hanging on a cross, guilty as sin, staring death in the face, he was still granted God's wonderful gift of salvation! We may be too old, weak, broke or damaged to do certain things but we can still be saved. What we have here in Luke 23 is a true "deathbed" conversion. Sometimes people ask if they can be saved after living a lifetime of ignoring God, church, the Bible...the answer is yes! But the caution is not to make that a plan of action i.e., I will live as I want till I am at death's door then I will receive Christ. One young man who was under spiritual conviction told the preacher, Dr. Harry Ironside, that he would be like the thief on the cross. Dr. Ironside replied "Which thief?" One thief apparently never did get saved. We do not know when our death may come and so the Bible challenges us to trust Jesus today! 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 4:7
3. What comfort there is in salvation! Even when facing death and eternity this thief received wonderful promises from Jesus. The day of this man's death would become his same day to enter into the blessings of eternal life beyond. No indication of soul sleep or probational period in purgatory, but TODAY he would be with Jesus in Paradise. Jesus promised that the thief would be with HIM. That was the same promise to the disciples at the Last Supper. Jesus promised to come back and receive them to Himself - that where He is they would be also. John 14:3 How MUCH better than the heart rending and frightening words of Matthew 25:41 "Depart from Me."
1. There were 3 crosses that day. Where was Jesus' cross located? Matthew 27:38 Do you think there is any significance to that?
2. The Good Thief talks about fearing God. What do you think he meant in that context and do you think we should fear God? Luke 23:40; Proverbs 1:7: 1 Peter 2:17. How would you define what it is to fear God?
3. What does Luke 23:41a tell us about how this thief viewed himself? Compare Romans 3:23; 6:23a
4. Study Luke 23:41b,42. How did this thief view Jesus? 1 Peter 2:22: 2 Peter 1:15.
5. Who else talks about Paradise in the Bible? Are Paradise and Heaven the same or different? Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 2:7
6. List all the reasons someone should wait to trust Chris Jesus as Lord and Saviour.