One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself – and us, too, while you’re at it!”
But the other criminal protested. “Don’t you even fear God when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man hasn’t done one thing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in Paradise. This is a solemn promise.” – Luke 23:39-43 (Living Bible)
* * *
In many circles, the idea of questioning is seen as an act of opposing faith. But in other circles, questioning is essential to discerning what’s true and reliable. There is, in fact, an entire stream of solid questioning running through the Bible.
Here we have an example of two types of questioning. One is mocking, taunting, haughty. I doubt that this criminal would express any gratitude if he were freed from his cross.
The other, however, is open to answers and willing to admit responsibility for his actions. He sees not just the outward appearance of Jesus, but also his heart. He will receive a different answer.
Tellingly, the first person Jesus takes into his kingdom is not one of his disciples but a humble thief who turned to him at the last possible moment.
Here, in seven sentences, we have an entire plan of salvation laid before us.
Question: If water baptism is essential, who baptized the penitent thief?
* * *
Yea, though they had Trials of cruel Mockings, yet they esteemed the Reproach of Christ greater Riches than the Treasures of Egypt. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)