As this is Good Friday, it is timely and appropriate to focus our thoughts on the cross. In this Bible study we will review all seven sayings of Jesus from the cross, note the awesome truth that three of these were prayers, and then zero in on the second saying--the conversation with the repentant thief. In so doing we will discover five things this man realized about Jesus.
By combining all four gospels, we can construct the following chart of the seven sayings of Christ from the cross.
1.To those who were crucifying Him: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
2.To the repentant thief: “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
3.To Mary: “Woman, behold thy son”, and to John: “Behold thy mother” (John 19:27).
4.To His heavenly Father: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46 and Mark 15:34).
5.To the Roman soldiers: “I thirst” (John 19:28).
6.To the entire world: “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
7.To the Father: “Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46).
Now, looking more closely at these seven utterances, we note that the first, fourth, and seventh were all prayers to His heavenly Father, and that Luke’s gospel is the only one to record His first prayer from the cross and His last prayer from the cross. Furthermore, only Luke records the conversation that took place among the two thieves and Jesus. That conversation is a gold mine filled with rich nuggets of spiritual truth. Consider this outline of Luke 23:39-43 that I will entitle, What the Repentant Thief Realized:
FIRST, he realized God should be feared. “Dost thou not fear God?” As a criminal he was afraid of God’s judgment.
SECOND, he realized he was a sinner. “We indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds”.
THIRD, he realized Christ was sinless. “But this man has done nothing wrong”.
FOURTH, he realized Jesus was Lord. “Lord, remember me”.
FIFTH, he realized Christ had a kingdom, and his only hope was asking to be saved so he could enter it.
How this dying thief came to all these conclusions is hard to tell but he certainly got things right, and was promised “paradise”. All through history there have been those who, like this thief on the cross, have realized their need to accept Christ when they are about to die. While that is certainly not the best time to evaluate one's spiritual relationship with God, nonetheless, God forgives those who come to Him by faith, even if it is at the last minute.