The theology of the thief on the cross

Just because the second thief of the cross didn’t know much theology doesn’t mean he didn’t know any theology.

Here’s what he knew:

  1. God is to be feared. But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said–Luke 23:40.
  2. He realises the qualitative difference between the punishment inflicted on him and that inflicted on Jesus. “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”–Luke 23:41
  3. He understood his biggest problem wasn’t his imminent death, but what awaited him on the other side of death. Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”–Luke 23:42

This should lead us to ask where he got this knowledge from. While hanging from a Roman cross is hardly an ideal time for profound theological reflection. If it wasn’t there already, it would take a miracle from God to put it there at such a time.

He’d probably learned all this earlier, and up to that point it hadn’t seemed relevant to him. And when it became relevant, it was the most important thing to him.

May the Lord awaken in us a saving knowledge!

This post is based on Carl Trueman’s sermon titled The Second Thief on the Cross.

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