When Jesus is executed, two criminals are executed with him, one on either side. While we don’t know what these two men did to deserve the death penalty, we can assume it must have been something really bad, such as murder or insurrection.
Luke’s report of this event gives us a bit more detail than in Jesus’ other biographies. Luke notes that while one of the criminals insults Jesus, the other one sees things differently.
He says the punishment for him and the other lawbreaker is just, getting what their actions warrant, whereas Jesus is innocent. Then, in an amazing display of faith—since they will all soon be dead—he asks Jesus to remember him in his future kingdom. Jesus says it’s a done deal.
While this criminal on the cross did something bad to get the death penalty, anything wrong we do, whether major or minor, likewise earns us the punishment of death. Just as Jesus opens his arms to accept a hardened criminal, he can likewise accept us.
This criminal on the cross merely affirms Jesus and asks to spend eternity in heaven with him. We can do the same thing, too.
Discover more about the criminal on the cross in Luke 23:32-33, 39-43.
Read more about other people in the New Testament in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.