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What the Thief on the Cross Could Not Do

And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Luke 23:33-43


I have always been somewhat hesitant to write, teach, or preach on the passages of scripture that speak of the crucifixion because this is such “holy ground”. It is the greatest event of all of history and something that angels cannot grasp. But it is also that which we are instructed to dwell on, glory in, and declare to others. Today I want to speak about one of the two thieves who was crucified with Jesus. God reveals to us through him those things which are powerless to save us. By understanding this, we can understand how we can be saved.


What the thief on the cross could not do:


  • He could not be baptized, confirmed, confess to a human priest, or receive any religious rites.

  • He could not make restitution.

  • He could not do good works to offset the bad.

  • He could not join a church.

  • He could not have a “mountain-top experience”.

All that he could do was to repent, believe on Jesus Christ, and ask him for his grace. That is what he did and that is all that any of us can do. God does the rest.


For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Ephesians 2:8

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