I believe you’ll find that in both Matthew and Mark the two thieves were said to both have been ridiculing Jesus at the beginning. During the six hours of suffering, however, and probably during the last three hour especially, one thief had been watching the Jesus was dying and noticed that indeed something extremely unusual was taking place. The centurion at the foot of the cross made the same observation when he remarked, “surely this is the Son of God.” He understood that the one dying on the middle cross was not dying for any crime he had committed, but was indeed dying for the sins of others. It was at this point that He turned to Christ in faith and said, “Lord, remember me when you enter into your kingdom.” Jesus assured him that in this very day, they would be together in paradise.

I get great comfort in the fact that both thieves indeed did curse God as they hung on the cross together and it very well could have been with his dying breath that he repented and asked for salvation while expressing his faith in the Savior. We sometimes refer to the thieves as the good one and the bad one. They were both bad ones. According to the Roman authorities neither one of them were fit to live on this earth another day. The so-called good thief lived his entire life in sin, just as the so-called bad one did. There was no behavioral difference! But because of his last breath expression of faith in Jesus he became a saved thief. Obviously, he had not deposited any works in the kingdom he was about to enter, but there was a strong word from the Lord that he’d be admitted. In 1 Corinthians 3:15 Paul says, “If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.” The thief on the cross escaped through fire!

Many of us have been to funerals for our loved ones who have never expressed personal faith in Christ. They often have lived rebellious, sinful lives and have spurned and even ridiculed our faith in Jesus, just as these two bad thieves did. But there is always hope! No one knows what transpires in the hearts and minds of those who lie dying.

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43