The Thief on the Cross

The cross of Jesus stands as the central event in human history. Of all the great accomplishments of mankind, none can rival what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

That being the case, why then is the record of Jesus’ death, the greatest accomplishment in human history, cluttered with peripheral information about the death of an irrelevant thief?

As an answer to that question, may I suggest that the death of the penitent thief was not an irrelevant, peripheral event, but an important part of a greater story?  You see, while the cross of Jesus proclaimed the depth of God’s love in that he was willing to give his only begotten Son (John 3:16), the thief’s cross proclaimed the scope of God’s love.

The message of the thief’s cross was not intended to be a polemic point on whether one should or shouldn’t obey the Lord in baptism, but rather it was a message to all of us who struggle with guilt for wasting so much of our lives in sin. It speaks to those of us who have waited much too long to surrender our lives to Jesus. It speaks to all who have little more to offer to God than an apology. The thief’s cross announces that God is a God of grace and forgiveness!

I would imagine that the seemingly peripheral cross  belonging to the thief was a purposeful revelation intended to give us hope. Together, both crosses announce a message of hope concerning the depth and scope of God’s love.

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Comments 2

  • Is it not true that salvation is obtained by contacting the blood of Jesus? Until Jesus died and made the sacrifice for sins, His blood could not be contacted. The scripture says that we come in contact with the blood of Christ through baptism, which washes us clean of our sins by the blood that was shed. The thief asked for forgiveness before Jesus died so he was living under the Law of Moses and not the Law of Christ, which began with the establishment of the church on the Day of Pentecost. That is when the people that were there listening to Peter, learned what they must do to be saved. Peter told them to “Repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins.”(Acts 2:38) And in Acts 2:47 the scripture says, “God added to the church daily such as should be saved.

  • Elizabeth, what you said in your comments is certainly true. However, that was not what the article was about. Typically, whenever the thief on the cross is spoken of, it in context of a baptism debate. I believe that misses the point of the passage. This passage has nothing at all to do with baptism, but has everything to do with the scope of God’s salvation. The thief’s salvation reminds me that if God can save him, then there’s hope for you and me!

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