Luke 23:42
Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!"
A Sinner's RepentanceNewman Hall, LL. B.Luke 23:42
A Wonderful PrayerS. Minton, M. A.Luke 23:42
A Wonderful RequestH. Melvill B. D.Luke 23:42
Christ as SaviourH. Batchelor.Luke 23:42
Christ Preaching on the CrossH. Melvill, B. D.Luke 23:42
Christ's Greatest TrophyBishop Ryle.Luke 23:42
Christ's Word to the Penitent ThiefJ. Flavel.Luke 23:42
Conversion of the Dying ThiefExpository OutlinesLuke 23:42
Folly of Trusting to a Death-Bed RepentanceMaclaren.Luke 23:42
Great Faith ManifestedF. McGlynn, M. A.Luke 23:42
Lord, Remember Me!Luke 23:42
Marks of an Accepted FaithW. T. Hamilton, D. D.Luke 23:42
No Encouragement to Defer RepentanceH. Melvill, B. D.Luke 23:42
Scriptural Mention of ParadiseArchbishop Trench.Luke 23:42
The Believing ThiefCharles Haddon Spurgeon Luke 23:42
The Dying Robber SavedJ. L. Campbell.Luke 23:42
The Dying ThiefA. Mursell.Luke 23:42
The Dying ThiefJ. S. Bright.Luke 23:42
The Dying ThiefA. Maclaren, D. D.Luke 23:42
The Extraordinary Penitence of the Thief on the Cross no Argument for Delaying RepentanceT. Boston, D. D.Luke 23:42
The Great Moral Miracle of the CrossH. P. Bowen.Luke 23:42
The Mercy of Christ to the Penitent ThiefEssex RemembrancerLuke 23:42
The Penitent MalefactorTheological Sketch-bookLuke 23:42
The Penitent MalefactorJ. Jackson.Luke 23:42
The Penitent RobberJ. Parker, D. D.Luke 23:42
The Penitent Robber's Faith and PrayerCharles M. Jones.Luke 23:42
The Penitent ThiefJ. R. Thomson, M. A.Luke 23:42
The Penitent ThiefJ. Jortin, D. D.Luke 23:42
The Penitent ThiefCharles KingsleyLuke 23:42
The Saved MalefactorCanon Fremantle.Luke 23:42
The Saviour's GraceNewman Hall, LL. B.Luke 23:42
The State of the Righteous After DeathN. Emmons, D. D.Luke 23:42
The Merciful Savior on the CrossR.M. Edgar Luke 23:26-46
Lessons from the Three Crosses on CalvaryH. G. Guinness, B. A.Luke 23:39-43
The Crucified MalefactorsN. Emmons, D. D.Luke 23:39-43
The Dying Thief's Testimony to Our LordD. Brown, D. D.Luke 23:39-43
The Fear of God Gives Harmony to LifeCanon Knox Little.Luke 23:39-43
The Impenitent MalefactorG. E. Jones.Luke 23:39-43
The Impenitent ThiefThe Lay PreacherLuke 23:39-43
The Restraining PrincipleCanon Knox Little.Luke 23:39-43
The Two MalefactorsEssex RemembrancerLuke 23:39-43
The Two RobbersDr. Grandpierre.Luke 23:39-43
True PenitenceW. Clarkson Luke 23:39-43

These verses narrate what we may call a standard fact of the gospel of Christina fact to which appeal will always be made, as it has always been made, in reference to a late repentance. We have to consider -

I. THE BREVITY WITH WHICH A GREAT' SPIRITUAL REVOLUTION MAY BE WROUGHT IN A HUMAN MIND. Twelve hours before, this man was a hardened criminal, habituated to a life of rapacious and murderous violence; his counterpart is to be found to-day in the cells of a penal establishment. And now, after a short companionship with Jesus, after hearing him speak and seeing him suffer, his heart is purged and cleansed of its iniquity, he is another man, he is a child of God, an heir of heaven. There are great capacities in these human souls of ours, which do not come often into exercise, but which are actually within us. Powerful speech, imminent peril, great emergencies, sudden inspiration from God, - these and other things will call them forth; there is a brilliant flash of remembrance, or of emotion, or of realization, or of conviction and resolution. And then that which is ordinarily wrought in many days or months is accomplished in an hour. The movements of our mind are not subject to any time-table calculations whatsoever. No man can define the limit of possibility here. Great revolutions can be and have been wrought almost momentarily. Not slowly toiling upward step by step, but more swiftly than the uprising of the strongest bird upon fleetest wing, may the human soul ascend from the darkness of death into the radiant sunshine of hope and life.


1. He recognizes the existence and the power and the providence of God (ver. 40).

2. He has a sense of the turpitude of his own conduct, a due sense of sin (ver. 41).

3. He recognizes the innocence and excellence of Jesus Christ (ver. 41).

4. He believes in his real royalty, though it is so hidden from sight, and though circumstances are so terribly against it (ver. 42).

5. He believes in the pitifulness as well as the power of this kingly Sufferer, and he makes his humble but not unhopeful appeal to his remembrance.

6. He does the one thing for Christ he can do as he is dying on the cross - he remonstrates with his companion in crime, and seeks to silence his cruel taunts. Here is penitence, faith, service, all springing up and in earnest exercise in this brief hour.

III. A SUDDEN TRANSITION FROM THE LOWEST TO THE HIGHEST ESTATE. (Ver. 43.) "What a day to that dying man! How strange a contrast between its opening and its close, its morning and its night! Its morning saw him a culprit condemned before the bar of earthly judgment; before evening shadowed the hill of Zion he stood accepted at the bar of heaven. The morning saw him led out through an earthly city's gates in company with One who was hooted at by the crowd that gathered round him; before night fell upon Jerusalem the gates of another city, even the heavenly, were lifted up, and he went through them in company with One around whom all the hosts of heaven were bowing down as he passed to take his place beside the Father on his everlasting throne" (Hanna). In view of this most interesting fact we gather two lessons.

1. One of hopefulness. It is never too late to repent; in other words, repentance, when real, is never ineffectual. None could be more undeniably impenitent until within a few hours of his death than this malefactor, and no man's penitence could be more decisively availing than his. It was real and thorough, and therefore it was accepted. It is a great thing for those who speak for Christ to be warranted, as they are, in going to the dying and despairing, and telling these departing ones, that true penitence, however late, avails with God; that his ear is not closed against the sigh of the contrite, even at the last hour of the day; that up to the last there is mercy to be had by them who truly seek it. But there is another lesson to be learnt.

2. One of warning and of fear. There is every reason to hope that true though late repentance is always accepted; but there is grave reason to fear that late repentance is seldom real and true. How often does experience prove that men in apparently dying hours have believed themselves to be penitent when they have only been apprehensive of coming doom! The dread of approaching judgment is far from being the same thing as repentance unto life. Not the last hour, when a selfish dread may be so easily mistaken for spiritual conviction, but the day of health and strength, when conviction can pass into action and honest shame into faithful service, is the time to turn from sin and to seek the face and the favor of the living God. Let none despair, but let none presume. - C.

Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.
I. HIS WONDERFUL FAITH. "When Thou comest into Thy kingdom." When Charles

I. of England, or Maximilian, the brilliantly brief Mexican emperor, were about to suffer death, suppose such an expectation had been expressed to them! It would have been considered a sickly taunt. Not so this.

II. HIS REMARKABLE REQUEST. "Remember me." "God is not unrighteous to forget" Christian labour of love, but here was a miserable culprit who had never done Jesus any good turn. Charles

II. and Louis Napoleon rewarded friends of their exile, but how about this request? What could he expect to be remembered for?

1. As a penitent sinner.

2. As one who has trust in a perfect Saviour.

(Charles M. Jones.)

I. THIS NARRATIVE PRESENTS FAITH TO US AS CONSISTING IN A FIRM AND TRUSTING PERSUASION THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST; THAT HE HAS POWER TO HELP; AND THAT THE HELP HE GIVES IS SPIRITUAL HELP. On one side of Christ was a believer, on the other an unbeliever. Both in their pain pleaded with their more august and noble fellow-Sufferer. What said the unbeliever? "If Thou be the Christ, save Thyself and us." Contrast with this the appeal which faith presents. It at once addresses Christ as Lord: "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom." The unbeliever refused to regard Jesus as the Christ, except on the condition of a temporal deliverance. Had Christ commanded the nails to loose their hold, and the cross to fall; had He healed the wounds and assuaged the pain; he might then in his turn have acknowledged Him as Lord. But the believer imposes no condition, he asks no proofs; but with the iron smarting in his flesh, and the death-pain thrilling through his frame, he finds a voice to call his Saviour by His rightful name. Mark, too, the confidence of the penitent in the power of God to save. You meet with no dubious "if"; the prayer he offers is simple in its trustfulness. "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom." He saw the triumphal arches decked with bright garlands from the tree of life, and angels waiting with the regal diadem, for the King of glory to come in and take His crown. And mark, too, the spirituality of his faith. He knew that Christ had the power to save his body from the pangs of death; yet it was for no such boon as this he asked. He hankered not after what he was leaving in the past. He thought of that with shame, and shuddered to recall it. He wanted to forget it in the brightness of a future kingdom, whence sin is banished, and shame is barred from entering. He felt for his soul. His faith looked above and beyond; above, to God's right hand, and to the throne where angels worshipped, and the spirits of the just bowed down; and beyond, further than mortal gaze can soar, further than dwarfish time can reach, into the eternal ages.

II. THIS NARRATIVE TEACHES US SOMETHING OF THE DIFFICULTIES OF FAITH. It has often to contend both against experience and example. If ever there was a time when there seemed to be a strong excuse for disbelief, it was at the time that this dying malefactor displayed his faith. Speaking humanly, was it likely that that should be the Christ? What had the prophets said concerning Him, centuries before His coming? They had tuned trumpet and harp and voice to loudest, sweetest sound to tell of the dignity of His person, and the glory of His reign. They had depicted in vivid hues the splendour of His conquests, and His royal majesty. And what have we here? The convicted malefactor of man's tribunal, the puppet of man's small authority, belying, as it seemed, His own high pretensions, by the very weakness which He shows, and swallowing, if we may so say, His asseverations of immortality by His obedience to such a death. What! this the Christ! This bleeding, groaning, suffering, expiring clay; is this the royal King, the heaven-sent Messiah? Is there any might to save within that pallid arm? Is there any light under that glazing eye to scare the king of terrors from his prey? These were the thoughts which made the Jews refuse belief, and pour derision upon Christ. These were the semblances, in spite of which the dying thief believed, and called his dying Master, "Lord." The conduct of others, as well as the condition or predicament of Christ, was against his faith. He knew that Jesus, while hanging on the cross, had heard the taunts of the rulers, the insults of the soldiery, and the ribald mockery of the common people. As yet, the sack-clothed veiling of the sun had not abashed them; the crimson blushing of the indignant sky had not rebuked them to forbear; the shuddering earthquake, and the gathering pall of night had not chid their railing tongues to silence. Amazing faith! This man believed when all others disbelieved. He worshipped when all the rest were mocking. He adored when all the universe seemed in arms.

III. But the narrative shows us, too, THE VICTORIES OF FAITH; AND WITH A GLANCE AT THESE WE CLOSE. The faith of the dying thief secured a favourable response from Christ; was afterwards verified by facts; and is now triumphant in heaven. What, think you, accounts for the difference between these two thieves? Why was the heart of one a thief's heart to the last, hard as the millstone, reviling Christ, and hissing forth his last breath in insult at the Sufferer, while that of the other softened into a heart of flesh, and surged with sympathy for the innocence of the expiring Lord? It was faith in Christ which made the difference; the faith which worketh by love, and is the condition of the new creature in Christ Jesus; this accounted for the change wrought upon the penitent, and it justified the sinner. His guilt was removed; his iniquities were pardoned. The moment that the Master said, "This day shalt thou be with Me in paradise," that moment he found peace with God, and felt the "great calm" deep in his soul. What reeked he of the cross, the pain, the wounds? Here was a victory for his faith. Let yours gain equal conquests, and it shall lead you to a like inheritance. We spoke just now of the apparent unreasonableness of this man's faith. Let us here speak a word of its justification, and therefrom let reason learn to reserve her verdicts and her judgments till the time be ripe. Had those sage reasoners, who thought the Saviour dead because His clay was cold, waited but three short days, and then looked into His tomb, they would have seen the faith of the dying thief justified in the vacant vault, the empty shroud, and the unknotted bands.

(A. Mursell.)


1. He was not a pagan, but a Jew — a believer in the true God.

2. A believer in future existence and retribution.

3. He had become a hardened wretch.


1. In his viewing sin in its relation to God.

2. In his acknowledgment of his own guilt.

3. In his reproving the conduct of the other robber, and his anxiety for his welfare.

III. HIS STRONG FAITH. He believed —

1. That Christ had a kingdom.

2. That He would hear requests.

3. That He would grant blessings.


1. Short; but a single sentence.

2. Humble; he only asked to be remembered.

3. Reliant. Remember all my past bad life; but remember, too, that I am dying trusting in Thy grace.

4. Earnest. The petition of an awakened sinner on the brink of eternity.

5. It included all he needed.

V. CHRIST'S ANSWER. Conclusions:

1. If Christ heard prayer when passing through His awful suffering upon the cross, will He not hear now that He is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour?

2. The conversion of this man shows how quickly Christ can save.

3. Salvation is all of grace, and not of works or merit.

4. Christ can not only justify and give us a title to heaven in a short time; He can also quickly sanctify and make us "meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."

5. One robber was taken and the other left.

6. This is the only case of death-bed conversion recorded in the Bible.

(J. L. Campbell.)

I. TRUE FAITH IS SELF-CONDEMNATORY; IT IS ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN SINCERE REPENTANCE. If I merit not condemnation, I need no pardon; and until I discern distinctly and fully that I am guilty, and righteously condemned, I cannot feel my need of pardon; and not feeling my need of it, I cannot desire it. The thief hanging at the Saviour's side did feel his guilt.

II. BUT HIS FAITH WAS ALSO UNHESITATING, FULL, CONFIDING. He sees his guilt; he feels his peril; he thinks that he discerns in Jesus evidence of power to help him; and at once and earnestly his suit is urged, "Lord, remember me." No conditions are proposed, no terms offered; he throws his hopes on the mere mercy of Him he styles Lord. And truly this is the genuine temper of true faith.

III. HIS FAITH WAS FRANK AND OPEN. There is a noble ingenuousness in this appeal of the dying thief that is worthy of all admiration, and of all imitation too. He spake not to one courted, admired, and applauded, but to one despised, calumniated, condemned, and hanging beside Him on a cross. There is here discovered a matchless moral grandeur in this dying thief.



(W. T. Hamilton, D. D.)

Theological Sketch-book.

1. He begins to rebuke the reviling malefactor.

2. He confesses his sin, and acknowledges the equity of his sentence.

3. He vindicates the character of Christ, while he unequivocally condemns himself.

4. His repentance is accompanied by faith in Christ.

5. And earnest prayer to Him.


1. Though Christ would take no notice of a reviler, nor give any answer to the language of reproach, yet He would attend to the plea of mercy; and to the plea of one of the most unworthy, and the least likely to obtain it. He would hear the prayer of a perishing sinner whose heart was contrite, even in the hour of death. What condescension, and what love!

2. He answered him without delay.

3. As the petition had implied much, so did the answer.

4. The promise is pronounced with a solemn asseveration; "Verily, I say unto thee." This bears the form of an oath, and gives the fullest assurance for the performance of the promise (Hebrews 6:18).Reflections:

1. We may observe, that there is a great difference between the conduct of this dying malefactor, and that of many dying penitents who are supposed to be converted. They often speak confidently of their state, and of their going to heaven; but this poor man did not, though Christ said so of him. He prayed that he might be saved; and after what Christ said, he might believe that he should; but he himself said not a word of that. The strong language that was used was Christ's, and not his.

2. There is a request on Christ's part as well as on ours: He desires to be remembered by us (1 Corinthians 11:24). He does not need it as we do; but love desires it, and wishes to live in the mind of its objects.

(Theological Sketch-book.)

1. The triumph of faith over great difficulties.

2. How Christ honours the exercise of faith.

3. How the favour of Christ abates the force of earthly trouble.

4. The way to the kingdom of glory is by a suffering Saviour.

5. Necessity gives life to prayer.

(J. S. Bright.)


1. Marvellous, coming from such a petitioner.

2. Marvellous, being offered in such circumstances.

3. Marvellous, in the spirit it revealed.

4. Marvellous, in its substance and purport.


1. The manner in which it was given excites our wonder; no delay or suspense, no conditions or qualifications.

2. When we look into the answer itself, we are amazed at its fulness, richness, and appropriateness.

(1)The place in which the delightful meeting was to occur: "Paradise."

(2)The society of which the dying penitent was assured: "With Me."

(3)The immediacy of the happiness promised: "To-day."Suggestions:

1. A blessed prospect is, in this language of our Divine Lord, opened up before those who are looking forward to death as the step into life.

2. A suitable prayer is, in the language of the penitent, suggested to our hearts.

3. The narrative affords encouragement to those who have long sinned, but who now sincerely repent and earnestly desire salvation.

(J. R. Thomson, M. A.)

I. His CHARACTER. A malefactor, a criminal of the basest sort, probably selected for crucifixion on this very account, to put greater shame upon Jesus. Then, none need despair.

II. NO ONE HAS ANY RIGHT TO PRESUME. While this one is taken, the other is left. All do not repent at the eleventh hour.


1. A conviction of sin.

2. Faith in the Son of God.

3. Prayer.

4. Concern for others.

5. Testimony to Jesus.

(Canon Fremantle.)

I. THE EXAMPLE OF THE PENITENT THIEF IS ADAPTED TO EXCITE, EVEN IN GREAT OFFENDERS, A RELIANCE ON THE GOODNESS AND COMPASSION OF GOD, IF THEY WILL RETURN TO HIM AND TO THEIR DUTY. Here was a man who had committed a crime for which by his own confession he deserved to die. His faith, and the manner in which he showed it, were doubtless very commendable; and yet they seem to have been rather too highly extolled. The behaviour of Christ under His sufferings, and the wonderful circumstances attending His crucifixion, might easily induce an unprejudiced man to think that He could be no ordinary person, much less a malefactor; and these things, joined to the knowledge which this man, being of the Jewish nation, might have had before of Christ and of His ministry, might well induce him to acknowledge Him for the Messias. But then it is likewise to be considered that he ran no risk, as to his worldly concerns, in so doing; the world could not use him worse; and his miseries had placed him beyond earthly fear and hope, beyond the reach of malice and cruelty. To his repentance, then, is to be ascribed the gracious reception which he found; his repentance was sincere, and God was pleased to accept the will for the deed. For, since God is no respecter of persons, where the same dispositions are found, the same favour will be extended. The consequence thus far seems to be just.


1. To abuse and provoke the lenity and long-suffering of God in this manner, to be wicked because He is good, is monstrously base and perverse, and shows a very dangerous depravity.

2. Sin, if it be not resisted, grows daily upon us, and makes the return to righteousness mere and more difficult and improbable; and he who cannot find in his heart to amend, even whilst he is a novice in iniquity, will be less disposed to it when time and custom have hardened him.

3. Sin is of a most infatuating nature, and corrupts not only the heart, but the understanding; and who knows where it may end?

4. As all other habits can no other way be removed than by introducing contrary habits, which is the work of patience, resolution, and repeated attempts; the same must hold true concerning sinful habits. So that though a change of mind and a purpose of amendment may be wrought soon and suddenly, yet a change of behaviour, which is the only sure proof of amendment, requires time and labour; and it is hard to conceive how a late repentance can change bad habits, unless we suppose that the alteration for the better, which is just beginning in this world, may be carried on and completed in the next. But concerning this the Scriptures are silent; and who would risk his soul upon conjectural hopes?

5. Since sinners have perhaps often designed and purposed, and resolved, without performing, they will have too much reason to suspect the sincerity of their own hearts, and to rely but little on a change of purpose which present and pressing danger extorts from them. Add to this, that a sinner may be removed out of this world suddenly and without any warning, or that many infirmities of body or mind may deprive him in a great measure of his understanding, and render him incapable of performing any rational act of any kind, and consequently the act of repenting.

6. The gospel requires from all men improvement and perseverance. A late repentance, such as it is, at the close of a bad life, can seldom exert the first of these duties, and never the second.

7. An intention to do just enough to save ourselves from perdition, and no more, is putting ourselves in a very dangerous situation. A cold and faint attempt to enter in must be attended with the hazard of being shut out.

(J. Jortin, D. D.)

The word repentance does not mean simple regret. It is a change of mind; an alteration of thought, feeling, and conduct. When a sinner truly repents he does more than lament the past, dread the future, and ask for mercy. He hates his sin, not only for the punishment it brings, but for itself. It is no longer in harmony with his taste. Holiness is no longer his aversion. However sudden may have been the dying thief's repentance, it was an entire change of heart and character, and would have resulted in an entire change of conduct had his life been prolonged. In proof of this, consider some of the elements of this repentance.

I. There was REVERENCE FOR GOD. He said to his companion "Dost thou not fear God." The absence of this fear is the main characteristic of the ungodly. "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

II. The dying thief indicated CONTRITION for his former life of sin. "We indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds." He was suffering the agonies of crucifixion. But the torture did not provoke him to complain of the severity of the sentence. He felt himself to be a criminal. He confessed it before his companion and the crowd. We infer from the entire narrative that he was a sincere penitent. He did honestly lament his wickedness. It was more than regret for the consequences; it was remorse for the sin. This is an element in all true repentance.

III. In the repentance of the dying thief there was APPRECIATION OF GOODNESS. He said of Jesus, "But this man hath done nothing amiss." False penitence, which laments only the discovery, the shame, the punishment of sin. and not sin itself, may regret the lack of virtues which bring rewards, but does not really appreciate and admire goodness for its own sake. It is otherwise with those who "unfeignedly repent."

IV. This repentance included a CONFESSION OF CHRIST. The dying thief testified to all around his admiration of Christ's character. By what he had heard from others, by what he had himself witnessed, he felt assured that Jesus was innocent. And he did not hesitate to declare this. A faithful confession of Christ will always follow sincere repentance. But how much such confession involves!

V. FAITH was illustriously manifested in this repentance. The dying thief said, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom." He called Jesus "Lord" — as possessing authority, a right to rule. He ascribed to Him kingship, for he spoke of His kingdom. This was wonderful. There was no outward indication of lordship, there were no insignia of royalty. Jesus was a captive, condemned, insulted, crucified; yet does the dying thief salute Him as a king! King? Where are His royal robes? They have torn from Him even His ordinary dress! King? Where is His throne? That cross of shame on which He hangs! Yet poor, vanquished, insulted, murdered, the dying thief has faith to recognize Him as a king, and able to confer royal gifts!

VI. The repentance of the dying thief manifested itself in PRAYER. Where there is true repentance there will be true prayer. In every case of conversion it may be said, as was said of Saul of Tarsus, "Behold he prayeth." Such prayer will be humble, believing, and obedient. And our prayers will not be merely for benefits we are to receive passively, but for strength and opportunity to serve God actively. We shall regard it as the best of all benefits to be numbered with His subjects, to be employed as His servants, to be remembered in His kingdom. Can repentance, when it includes such a spirit of prayer, be a trifling change in one who has neglected prayer, disbelieved its efficacy, disliked its exercise?

VII. The repentance of the dying thief already began to bring forth the GOOD WORKS of zeal for God and charity towards man. He honoured Christ before the world, and proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom. He also felt for the sad state of his companion in crime, and sought with his dying breath to lead him to repentance. However recent his own convictions he must make them known. He could not let his companion die impenitent without a word of remonstrance. He could not withhold the discovery he had made of a Saviour who could do more for them both than take them down from the cross.

(Newman Hall, LL. B.)

I like Luke's description of these two men better than any other. He does not call them thieves: he calls them malefactors — that is, doers of evil, without specifying the exact form of crime to which they had committed themselves, and which had brought upon them the agonies of crucifixion. I am quite willing that one of them should be called a thief: he was small and mean of mind, and there was nothing in his speech that did not become a very low and vulgar order of intellectual and moral conception. But the one who is usually spoken of as the penitent thief proved himself in this last distress to be one of the greatest men that ever lived in the world. If you analyze his speech you will find that in philosophy, in audacity of thought, in width and penetration of conception, no greater speech was ever made by human lips. I am, therefore, prepared to defend this malefactor on the intellectual side, and to redeem him from the debasement of his association with a man of a nutshell mind and of a foul tongue. This is one of the stories in the Bible that must be true, by the mere force of its audacity. It never could have entered the mind of a romancist that such a man, under such circumstances, could have made such a speech. All the disciples are mean men, intellectually, compared with this dying malefactor. They never discovered, up to the time of the crucifixion, intellectual vigour enough to conceive a figure like this. They have painted women well, they have done justly by a thousand beautiful incidents in the life of their great, sweet Lord, but no man like this have they ever dreamed into being. He was real — he did say these words. They stand out from all other words so grandly as to be their own best testimony and vindication. What did this dying malefactor do to prove his intellectual greatness? He saw the Lord in the victim. What did all the other minds round about him? What vulgarity always does and must do — reviled, derided, scorned the weak, defied the impotent, crushed the worm. It was like them, worthy of them; in so doing they did not debase Christ; they wrote themselves little men. It is a great thing for thee, poor coward, to revile a man both of whose hands are nailed, and whose feet are pierced with iron, and whose temples are bleeding because of the cruel thorn. Art thou very witty, mighty in mind, very chivalrous and nobly heroic to speak derisive words of any man in such circumstances? Observe how all other men looked upon Christ just them All the disciples had forsaken Him, and fled away. The women were standing in helpless tears, dejected and speechless. All the people round about, big and little, were mocking and deriding the great Sufferer. One of the malefactors was saying, "If Thou be the Christ, save Thyself and us." Little minds have all little scales of proof. If Jesus had come down from the cross and taken the two thieves with Him, that would have settled everything in the mind of the malefactor, but it would have only settled it for the moment. He would have taken from that wider liberty to repeat his petty felonies. He must be a thief, that man, and he would have made his calling and election sure. But in the midst of all this abandonment on the one hand, derision, contempt, and scorn on the other, an unexpected and unlikely voice says "Lord" to the dying Nazarene. It was a great thought, it was an audacious utterance. Viewed in relation to the time anti all the convergent circumstances of the case, to have said "Lord" then was to have seen the sun amid the darkness of midnight, to have penetrated the gloom of countless generations and ages, and to have seen all the stars in their keenest glitter of light far away above the dense and lowering gloom. Dost thou see big things in the dark, my friend, or art thou terrified by thine own shadow? What mind hast thou? A forecasting and prophetic mind, a seeing mind, a prophetic brain; or art thou dazed by lights that seem to have no relation and harmony, and confounded by voices coming from a thousand different quarters at once? Hast thou shaping power of mind, a grand power, all but creative, which orders chaos into Cosmos, which makes the darkness reveal its jewellery of stars? Where are thou in this great religious thinking? Learn from a strange teacher that Victim and Lord are compatible terms. Learn that a man may transiently be at the very depth of his history, that he may come up from that with a completer strength and a fuller lustre to the height of his power. "He made Himself of no reputation; He took upon Him the form of a servant; He became obedient unto death." Dust thou only know a king when he is upon a throne? Dost thou require a great label in red letters to be put around a man's neck to know just what he is? Dost thou know no man can be a great man who lives in a little house? Sayest thou of thy small vulgarized mind, "The man who lives amid all these bricks must be a huge man"? Dust thou never see a third-class passenger in a first-class carriage? What sort of mind hast thou? O that the Lord God of Elijah and Elisha would open thine eyes, poor servant, to see within the thronging soldier-host a circle of angels; keen as lightning, terrible as fire, defensive as almightiness! This malefactor, a man who could have played with thrones and nations, did more than see the Lord in the victim, and yet it was something exactly on the same line of thought. He saw life beyond death. Consider where he is: on the cross, bleeding, his life oozing out of him in red drops; his breath will presently be gone. Is he throttled, killed? — is he a beast thrust through that will baptize the earth with red water, and exhale and blend with the infinite azure? He is not conquered: he dies to live. "Lord," said he, "remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom." "But you are dying." — "No." "You are to be buried." — "No." "It is your last hour." — "No. I cannot die: if this Man take me in charge, death will be but a momentary shadow. I will come up into a larger life. This Man breathes eternity, and creates kingdoms, and sets up empires, and gives away thrones. I cannot die if He take charge of me." Whoever made so grand a speech in circumstances so unlikely to have suggested such an outcome? What is your speech? A sad farewell — something little better than a whine — the whimper of a subdued nature — the tremulous breath of one whose strength is all gone? Or dost thou languish into life? Dost thou hear the angels singing, "Sister spirit, come away"? What is thy faith doing for thee? Be not shamed by a malefactor. The dying malefactor spoke up for Christ. Into what strange circumstances we are often drawn — our friends gone or dumb, our enemies deriding and mocking, and our defence spoken by a strange tongue! We are better known than we think for; all our help comes from unexpected quarters. The true man is not utterly deserted: some one will arise from a corner unthought of to speak a kind word for him. The malefactor said, "This Man hath done nothing amiss." It was a bold thing to say: the court had condemned Him, the High Priest had reviled Him, the sentiment of the times was against Him, the mob had hustled Him to Golgotha; and the malefactor undertook from that high court to reverse the decree, and to pronounce the Son of God to be unworthy of such a death! We have our chances of speaking for Christ — how do we use them? He is still upon the cross — who speaks for Him? I have heard men speak for Christ whose way of doing it I have envied, and who were the very last men in the world, I thought, who could ever have spoken up for such a Lord. They have spoken with the pathos of gratitude; they have spoken with the directness of a burning and earnest conviction. Were they ministers in the usual sense of the term? No, but they were ordained prophets of God. We can be exemplars where we cannot be advocates: we can live a life where we cannot make a speech: every man amongst us can do something to proclaim, not the innocence only, but the infinite and incorruptible holiness of Jesus Christ. This malefactor saw the kingdom beyond the cross. Great man — piercing mind — audacious thinker. Is there a man here of such spirit and temper? It is not in man; it is a revelation of the Holy Ghost. God opens strange mouths to speak His truth. Just see, then, how our selfishness differs. The little thief said, "Save me, take me down from the cross," the big thief said, "Never mind the present: let it be a kingdom when it comes — an ulterior salvation, an ulterior destiny." Selfishness indeed, but on a nobler scale. The small mind wanted an immediate benefit; the great mind said, "Let us go through this tunnel into the great kingdom, into the beautiful landscape. When we shoot out of this darkness — Lord, remember me!" Perhaps not selfish either. Did not this dying malefactor say more in that interview with Christ than some of us have ever said in our lives? He defended Him, he hailed Him Lord, he ascribed to Him a kingdom, he triumphed over death, he saw the crown above the cross. Christianity invites and encourages vigour of intellect.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. We see here an illustration of THE CROSS IN ITS POWER OF DRAWING MEN TO ITSELF. It is strange to think that, perhaps, at that moment the only human being that thoroughly believed in Christ was that dying robber. The disciples are all gone. The most faithful of them are recreant, denying, fleeing. Brethren, it is just the history of the gospel wherever it goes. It is its history now, and in this congregation. The gospel is preached equally to every man. The same message comes to us all, offering us the same terms. And what is the consequence? A parting of the whole mass of us, some on one side and some on the other. As when you take a magnet, and hold it to an indiscriminate heap of metal filings, it will gather out all the iron, and leave behind all the rest! "I, if I be lifted up," said He, "will draw all men unto Me." The attractive power will go out over the whole race of His brethren; but from some there will be no response. In some hearts there will be no yielding to the attraction. Some will remain rooted, obstinate, steadfast in their place; and to some the lightest word will be mighty enough to stir all the slumbering pulses of their sin-ridden hearts, and to bring them, broken and penitent, for mercy to His feet. To the one He is "a savour of life unto life, and to the other a savour of death unto death." And now, there is another consideration. If we look at this man, this penitent thief, and contrast him, his previous history, and his present feelings, with the people that stood around, and rejected and scoffed, we get some light as to the sort of thing that unfits men for perceiving and accepting the gospel when it is offered to them. Why was it that scribes and Pharisees turned away from Him? For three reasons. Because of their pride of wisdom. "We are the men who know all about Moses and the traditions of the elders; we judge this new phenomenon not by the question, How does it come to our consciences, and how does it appeal to our hearts? but we judge it by the question, How does it tit our rabbinical learning? They turned away from the cross, and their hatred darkened into derision, and their menaces ended in a crucifixion, not merely because of a pride of wisdom, but because of a complacent self-righteousness that knew nothing of the fact of sin, that never had learned to believe itself to be full of evil, that had got so wrapped up in ceremonies as to have lost the life; that had degraded the Divine law of God, with all its lightning "splendours, and awful power, into a matter of "mint and anise and cummin." They turned away for a third reason. Religion had become to them a mere set of traditional dogmas, to think accurately or to reason clearly about which was all that was needful. Still it is not sin in its outward forms that makes the worst impediment between a man and the cross, but it is sin plus self-righteousness which makes the insurmountable obstacle to all faith and repentance. And then we see here, too, the elements of which acceptable faith consists. Mark what it was that he believed and expressed — I am a sinful man; all punishment that comes down upon me is richly deserved: This man is pure and righteous; "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom." That is all — that is all. That is the thing that saves a man. How much He did know — whether he knew all the depth of what he was saying, when he said, "Lord!" is a question that we cannot answer; whether he understood what the "kingdom" was that he was expecting, is a question that we cannot solve; but this is clear — the intellectual part of faith may be dark and doubtful, but the moral and emotional part of it is manifest and plain. "My Saviour! My Saviour! He is righteous: He has died — He lives! I will stay no longer; I will cast myself upon Him!"

II. This incident reminds us not only of the attractive power of the cross, but of the prophetic power of the cross. We have here THE CROSS AS POINTING TO AND FORETELLING THE KINGDOM. Pointing out, and foretelling: that is to say, of course, and only, if we accept the scriptural statement of what these sufferings were, the Person that endured them, and the meaning of their being endured. But the only thing I would dwell upon here, is, that when we think of Christ as dying for us, we are never to separate it from that other solemn and future coming of which this poor robber catches a glimpse. The crown of thorns proclaims a sovereignty founded on sufferings. The sceptre of feeble reed speaks of power wielded in gentleness. The cross leads to the crown. He who was lifted up to the cross, was, by that very act, lifted up to be a Ruler and Commander to the peoples. "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness before Him in the day of judgment." "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom."

III. Here is the CROSS AS REVEALING AND OPENING THE TRUE PARADISE. "This day shalt thou be with Me in paradise." It is of more practical worth to note: the penitent's vague prayer is answered, and over-answered. Remember thee I thou shalt be with Me, close to My side. Remember thee when I come! this day shalt thou be with Me. And what a contrast that is — the conscious blessedness rushing in close upon the heels of the momentary darkness of death. At the one moment there hangs the thief writhing in mortal agony; the wild shouts of the fierce mob at his feet are growing faint upon his ear: the city spread out at his feet, and all the familiar sights of earth are growing dim to his filmy eye. The soldier's spear comes, the legs are broken, and in an instant there hangs a relaxed corpse; and the spirit, the spirit — is where? Ah! how far away; released from all its sin and its sore agony, struggling up at once into such strange divine enlargement, a new star swimming into the firmament of heaven, a new face before the throne of God, another sinner redeemed from earth!

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. THE CHARACTER AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS MAN. The Evangelists St. Matthew and St. Mark describe him as a "thief"; and in the text St. Luke denominates him a "malefactor." It may not, therefore, be improper to trace the progress of iniquity in such persons; and to show the causes which contribute to form their mischievous and wretched characters. By this means inexperienced persons may be warned against the beginnings of evil, and the guardians of youth reminded of the responsibilities under which they lie. Among these causes we may specify —

1. The want of a sound religious and moral education.

2. The violation of the Sabbath is another fruitful source of evil.

3. The keeping of bad company, which is another frightful source of evil.

4. Habits of intemperance, The circumstances of the man who is described in our text were awful indeed. His end was actually come. Even to the holiest of men death is an affair of awful moment. It dissolves our earthly frame; it severs our connection with every person and object beneath the sun; it ends our short day of trial; and it forces us into a state which eternity will never reverse. The fear and trepidation which naturally arise, even in a good mind, at the arrival of death, are terribly heightened by that consciousness of guilt which the malefactor before us must have felt.


1. He reproved the rashness and impiety of his impenitent fellow-sufferer.

2. He acknowledged the justice of the sentence under which he lay. "We indeed," said he, suffer death "justly." It is an ill sign when persons who are punished for their faults are loud in their complaints of undue severity.

3. He bore witness to the innocence of Jesus. "This man," said he, "hath done nothing amiss."

4. He made a direct application to Christ for mercy. Turning his languid eyes to Jesus, he said, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom."

III. THE ANSWER WHICH CHRIST GRACIOUSLY VOUCHSAFED: "Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with Me in paradise."

1. This answer secured to the man the requisite preparation for future glory. If he was to be in paradise that day, he must on that day be qualified for its joys and employment. That this great work should be instantaneously wrought is not at all surprising when we consider its Author.

2. The answer of our Lord marks the true nature of man.

3. Our Lord's answer teaches us that those who die in Him immediately enter into rest. No longer period of time elapses after the believing soul has left the body before its superior happiness begins.

(J. Jackson.)

Do not trust a death-bed repentance, my brother. I have stood by many a death-bed, and few indeed have there been where I could have believed that the man was in a condition physically (to say nothing of anything else) clearly to see and grasp the message of the gospel. I know that God's mercy is boundless. I know that a man, going — swept down that great Niagara — if, before his little skiff tilts over into the awful rapids, he can make one great bound with all his strength, and reach the solid ground — I know he may be saved. It is an awful risk to run. A moment's miscalculation, and skiff and voyager alike are whelming in the green chaos below, and come up mangled into nothing, far away down yonder upon the white turbulent foam. "One was saved upon the cross," as the old divines used to tell us, "that none might despair; and only one that none might presume."


What if the two greatest believers that ever lived were at that moment hanging side by side! What if the faith of the far greater Believer, more sorely tried than it had ever been before, was strengthened in that hour of deepest need by the unshaken faith of the dying criminal beside Him, as He had before been strengthened, whether in mind, or body, or both, by an angel in the garden! What if the faith expressed in that prayer encouraged the Saviour of the world to believe in Himself and in His Father, by showing that some one else believed in Him still! What if the words, "When Thou comest in Thy kingdom," brought the kingdom as a living reality for a moment before His mind, and put life into His fainting spirit! Why, then, if this were so, we can understand why such faith should be given to such a man. He would have an opportunity of manifesting it as no one else ever had before or since, and by so manifesting it, of rendering to the Incarnate Son of God perhaps the greatest help that He ever received from any human being.

(S. Minton, M. A.)

Oh! what wondrous, yea, miraculous faith! How much had it to contend against!

1. Against the circumstances of the ease. Admit that the converted thief had witnessed Jesus' miracles, and had heretofore conceived high notions of our Lord's divinity and power; now when he saw that very Jesus, his Companion in death, nailed to the cross by his side, surely (humanly speaking), it was enough to stagger his faith, and lead him to join in the godless taunts of the godless men around him.

2. His faith had to contend against the voice of the times. For the whole national spirit was against Jesus, crying, "Away with Him, crucify Him."

3. Example was against him. All around him are unbelievers; and we know well how contaminating is the society of unbelievers. And, further, his faith leads him to re prove sin in others: "Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation" — even in the very man who in all probability was his accomplice in crime; for he adds, "We indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds" (Luke 23:41). Well, I think his faith cannot be accounted for upon any principle derived from the nature of the case. What would you think of some politician now-a-days clinging to some favourite scheme of reform, when the spirit of the age was against him, the voice of his fellow-countrymen, his friends, and his neighbours pronounced his cherished scheme Utopian and ridiculous? The man would not be able to withstand all; and very likely he would abandon his project for ever as he finds himself thus alone in his views, or gain for himself the no very enviable appellation of a man of unsound mind. How, then, I ask, can you account for his unflinching faith? Oh! he was taught by God's Holy Spirit, and that Spirit supplies with strength in the hour of need, with comfort in trouble and tribulations. And He only can make us call Jesus "Lord, even the Lord of our salvation."

(F. McGlynn, M. A.)

It was a wonderful request. What a faith did it exhibit! He recognized a King in the dying Man, and saw that the Cross was the high road to His throne; he felt and proclaimed his own immortality, and knew himself no destructible thing, though the ministry of death was breaking down the fleshly tabernacle; but once assured that he had yet to enter on untried and unlimited destinies, he therefore asked to be remembered when all this sin and suffering should have passed away, and another and a wider range of being should spread before him. And "remember me." He only asked to be remembered; but it was the memory of a King, trod that King Messiah, Lord of the invisible world, in whose chambers he solicited a place; and thus he evinced a thorough faith in the saving power of Jesus. What advantage in the being remembered by Jesus, unless Jesus could procure for him that pardon which He had been asking for His crucifiers? What advantage the being remembered by a king, except that as king he must have authority to portion out allotments of happiness? So that it is no overwrought or exaggerated statement that the dying thief exhibited all the tokens which can ever be demanded of a genuine conversion. There was confession of sin, there was spirituality of mind, there was anxiety for others, there was the fullest recognition of Christ's power to deliver, and there was a mighty faith which, nothing daunted by all the circumstances of apparent helplessness and defeat, were sufficient to confound and overcome distance, sprang beyond the line of death and shame, and seemed to gaze on the palace and the crown; and though he had not an opportunity of showing by an altered life that his heart was renewed, yet his faith in Christ was so stupendous an act, that no one can doubt that, had space been allowed for development, every action would have proved its reality.

(H. Melvill B. D.)

Legh Richmond, the author of "The Dairyman's Daughter," in one of his visits to the Young Cottager, found the little girl asleep, with her finger lying on a Bible, which lay open before her, pointing at these words, "Lord, remember me, when Thou comest in Thy kingdom!" "Is this casual, or designed? thought I. Either way is remarkable. But, in another moment, I discovered that her finger was indeed an index to the thoughts of her heart. She half awoke from her dozing state, but not sufficiently so to perceive that any person was present, and said in a kind of whisper, 'Lord, remember me — remember me — remember — remember a poor child; Lord, remember me!'"

The last hours of Jesus were spent almost in silence. Teaching is at an end. His prophetic office is fulfilled. His priestly work has begun. The time has come to endure. But in the few words which He did utter He seemed to be all Saviour — never before so affectingly and impressively Saviour.

I. THERE IS A CRUCIFIED MALEFACTOR. Could Jesus interest Himself in such an one? Is he not beneath His notice? Ah! the Saviour can only know man as man. It is our nature as men, with all its mysterious, dread, and ineffable possibilities, that Jesus came to redeem. A dying malefactor contrite, is nearer to Jesus than a living king impenitent and estranged from God.

II. THE LORD IS VERY GRACIOUS. He did not breathe a word about that past guilty life. You and I would probably have recalled to the malefactor his terrible career, and would have felt it our duty to impress upon him a due sense of that evil state. A Saviour could not do that. Well, the Lord knew that no one ever turns to God whose heart is not already bruised and broken. When poor souls go to the Lord, it is not smiting which they need, but healing. Jesus blotted out the dreadful past, and unrolled the vision of the future. Our Lord seemed to say, "Yes, I will remember thee, but thy 'sins and thine iniquities will I remember no more.'"

III. HOW ANXIOUS OUR BLESSED SAVIOUR WAS TO ASSURE THE PENITENT OF THE MERCY WHICH HE COVETED! "Verily I say unto thee." It was only in moods of special intensity and on occasions peculiarly solemn that our Lord resorted to the asseveration. Verily I say unto thee. How the all-pitying Saviour shone forth in this emphatic expression!



(H. Batchelor.)

To-day shalt thou be with Me in paradise
Essex Remembrancer.

1. As to the means of his conversion. He was a Jew, and had probably some general knowledge of the prophecies concerning the Messiah. And no doubt what he witnessed of our Lord's extraordinary meekness and patience under His sufferings, and His prayer for His murderers, greatly confirmed his faith in Him, as the Redeemer promised to the fathers. This shows us the importance of maintaining a becoming temper under all the provocations we are called to meet with, in the respective situations in which we are placed, that if any obey not the Word, they may, without the Word, be won by our good conversation in Christ.

2. Observe the evidence he gave of the reality of the change.

3. The prayer which he presents to our dying Lord. We see in his prayer the exercise of faith in the Redeemer, and of hope in His mercy. His genuine humility is also apparent. All he presumes to ask is to be remembered by Christ. He says nothing about receiving the brightest crown He has to bestow, or the largest mansion He has at His disposal.

4. The gracious answer which our Lord made to his urgent request. And was ever answer so satisfactory, gracious, and consolatory?


1. It SHOWS US the sovereignty and freeness of the Divine mercy.

2. We have here a striking proof of the unspeakable efficacy of the atoning blood of Christ.

3. It becomes us to admire the almighty power of Christ, in subduing the hearts of sinners, and bringing the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.

4. We shall do well to notice the prevalency of prayer, in the instance before us. For this convinced, praying sinner no sooner asks than he receives, no sooner seeks than he finds, and no sooner knocks than the door of mercy is opened unto him.

5. The subject furnishes us with a specimen of the nature of true conversion, in every age.

6. This rich display of grace is intended to animate us in our endeavours, under the most discouraging circumstances, to bring sinners to repentance.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

I. CHRIST'S POWER AND WILLINGNESS TO SAVE SINNERS. I believe the Lord Jesus never gave so complete a proof of His power and will to save as He did upon this occasion. In the day when He seemed most weak, He showed that He was a strong deliverer. In the hour when His body was racked with pain, He showed that He could feel tenderly for others. At the time when He Himself was dying, tie conferred on a sinner eternal life.

II. IF SOME ARE SAVED IN THE VERY HOUR OF DEATH OTHERS ARE NOT. There is warning as well as comfort in these verses, and that is a very solemn warning too. They tell me loudly, that though some may repent and be converted on their death-beds, it does not at all follow that all will. A death-bed is not always a saving time. They tell me loudly that two men may have the same opportunities of getting good for their souls, may be placed in the same position, see the same things, and hear the same things — and yet only one of the two shall take advantage of them, repent, believe, and be saved. They tell me, above all, that repentance and faith are the gifts of God, and are not in a man's own power; and that if any one flatters himself he can repent at his own time, choose his own season, seek the Lord when he pleases, and, like the penitent thief, be saved at the very last — he may find at length he is greatly deceived. I want you to beware of letting slip good thoughts and godly convictions, if you have them. Cherish them and nourish them, lest you lose them for ever. Make the most of them, lest they take to themselves wings and flee away. Have you an inclination to begin praying? Put it in practice at once. Have you an idea of beginning really to serve Christ? Set about it at once.

III. THE SPIRIT ALWAYS LEADS SAVED SOULS IN ONE WAY. Every saved soul goes through the same experience, and the leading principles of the penitent thief's religion were just the same as those of the oldest saint that ever lived.

1. See, then, for one thing, how strong was the faith of this man. He called Jesus "Lord." He declared his belief that He would have "a kingdom."

2. See, for another thing, what a right sense of sin the thief had. He says to his companion, "We receive the due reward of our deeds." Would you know if you have the Spirit? Then mark my question — Do you feel your sins?

3. See, for another thing, what brotherly love the thief showed to his companion. He tried to stop his railing and blaspheming, and bring trim to a better mind. "Dost not thou fear God," he says, "seeing thou art in the same condemnation?" There is no surer mark of grace than this! Grace shakes a man out of his selfishness, and makes him feel for the souls of others.

IV. BELIEVERS IN CHRIST WHEN THEY DIE ARE WITH THE LORD. It was a true saying of a dying girl, when her mother tried to comfort her by describing what paradise would be. "There," she said to the child, "there you will have no pains, and no sickness; there you will see your brothers and sisters, who have gone before you, And will be always happy." "Ah, mother!" was the reply, but there is one thing better than all, and that is, Christ will be there."

V. THE ETERNAL PORTION OF EVERY MAN'S SOUL IS CLOSE TO HIM. "To-day," says our Lord to the penitent thief, "to-day shalt thou be with Me in paradise." He names no distant period; He does not talk of his entering into a state of happiness as a thing "far away," He speaks of to-day — "this very day in which thou art hanging on the cross." How near that seems! The very moment that believers die they are in paradise. Their battle is fought; their strife is over. They have passed through that gloomy valley we must one day tread; they have gone over that dark river we must one day cross. They have drank that last bitter cup which sin has mingled for man; they have reached that place where sorrow and sighing are no more. Surely we should not wish them back again! We are warring still, but they are at peace. We are labouring, but they are at rest. We are wearing our spiritual armour, but they have for ever put it off. We are still at sea, but they are safe in harbour. We have tears, but they have joy.

(Bishop Ryle.)

Expository Outlines.

1. The former character of this person.

2. The means whereby the change was accomplished. Conversion is God's work, but He usually employs certain means in effecting it.

(1)The words which the Saviour uttered.

(2)The spirit which the Saviour displayed.

3. The evidences he manifested of the reality of his conversion.

(1)He warned and reproved his fellow-sufferer.

(2)He made an open confession of his guilt, and acknowledged the justice of his sentence.

(3)He vindicates the character of Christ.

(4)He prays to Christ, and exercises unbounded confidence in Him.


1. Let us admire the riches of Divine grace. Oh how great, how unexpected, and especially how rapid was the change.

2. How striking a proof is here afforded of the Saviour's power. What must that energy be, which, under such circumstances, could snatch this man as a brand from the burnings.

3. The danger of delay is another lesson we may deduce from this narrative. Suppose a person had once leaped unhurt from some projecting rock into the deep precipice below, would that justify others in running the same risk? Madness of the maddest kind would it be.

(Expository Outlines.)



III. THE PETITION PRESENTED BY THE DYING SINNER. "Lord, remember me, when Thou comest into Thy kingdom."

1. It is a prayer that is offered up. The first prayer ever offered by him. The prayer of this penitent malefactor was sincere.

2. It was the prayer of faith; he believed in the power and willingness of the Saviour to bless Him.

3. It recognizes the supreme authority of the Saviour as a King.

4. In this prayer we see, too, his faith in the doctrine of the immortality of the soul.

5. This prayer is distinguished by humility.

6. This prayer is distinguished by fervour.

IV. THE ANSWER OF THE DIVINE SAVIOUR. This answer directs our thoughts to the home of the righteous after death — paradise. In this answer of the Saviour, another great doctrine is implied — That the soul of man is immaterial; that it lives and acts when the frail body lies in the silent tomb. In this answer of the Saviour we are taught that the righteous soul, in leaving the body, ascends immediately to God. In this answer of the Saviour, too, we see His power and willingness to save — to save "to the uttermost."

(H. P. Bowen.)

You are all aware that God's ordinary engine for the conversion of sinners is the preaching of His Word. We think that it was so here. Lifted on the cross, Christ used it not only as an altar, but as a pulpit, from which to deliver the most touching of sermons. It was not merely that He preached by the beauty of His patience and His meekness; there must indeed have been a voice in this which ought to have spoken to the most hardened of the multitude, producing conviction of His innocence, and contrition for the share taken in His condemnation and crucifixion; but we may consider the prayer which Christ uttered for His murderers as most strictly the sermon which the malefactor heard, and which, carried home to his heart by the Spirit of God, wrought in him the change so quickly and strikingly developed. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." These, we think, were the words which penetrated the conscience of the thief, and assured him that the being who hung at his side was none other than the promised Saviour of the world; for there was contained in that prayer a distinct claim to the being the Christ — for since the Jews crucified Him for pretending to be the Messiah, Christ's saying that they knew not what they did, amounted to an assertion that He actually was the Messiah. If there were pardon for those who crucified Christ, there must be also for every offender; and hence the thief, if once led to believe that Jesus was the Christ, would be further led to see forgiveness possible, and thus apply to his fellow-sufferer for salvation. So that in that short prayer which we have characterized as the sermon of Christ, there was all the publication of the gospel, which is ordinarily made effectual, by God's Spirit, to conversion. There was a distinct announcement that every sin may be pardoned through the intercession of Christ, and what is this but the sum and substance of the gospel? And this preaching it was which, without indulging in fanciful supposition, we may believe to have been instrumental to change of heart in the malefactor. The Spirit of God took the prayer of Christ, as it often does a sentence or a text from the mouth of one of His ministers, and, winging it with power, sent it into the very soul of the man who had just reviled the Redeemer.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)


1. Scripture plainly represents the soul to be different and distinct from the body.

2. The death of the body has no tendency to destroy the life of the soul.

3. Death has no more tendency to obstruct the free, voluntary, rational exercise of the soul, than to destroy it.

II. The souls of the saints after death GO IMMEDIATELY TO PARADISE.

1. Thes are essentially prepared to go there.

2. The Scripture gives no account of any other place than heaven or hell, to which the souls of men go after death.

3. That the Scripture assures us that many saints have actually gone to heaven immediately after they left this world.Improvement:

1. This subject teaches the error of those who hold that the souls of all men are annihilated at death.

2. This subject teaches the error of those who maintain that the souls of men sleep during the intermediate state between death and the resurrection.

3. This subject teaches the enormous error of those who maintain that many of the souls of saints are at their death sent immediately to purgatory, and there confined for a longer or shorter time, before they are allowed to go to heaven.

4. This subject teaches us the immense value of the human soul. It is distinct from, and superior to, the body, in all its rational powers and faculties, and can exist in its full vigour and activity in a state of separation from the body. It is in its nature immortal, and no other power than that which gave it existence can destroy it.

5. If the soul survives the body, and as soon as it leaves it goes into a state of everlasting happiness or misery, then this life is the most important period in human existence.

6. If the souls of men survive their bodies, then the office of the ministry is a very serious and responsible office. It is the peculiar and appropriate business of ministers to watch for souls.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

I. THERE IS A FUTURE ETERNAL STATE, INTO WHICH SOULS PASS AT DEATH. This is a principal foundationstone to the hopes and happiness of souls. And seeing our hopes must needs be as their foundation and ground-work is, I shall briefly establish this truth by these five arguments.

1. The being of a God evinces it.

2. The Scriptures of truth plainly .reveal it. The consciences of all men have resentments of it.

4. The incarnation and death of Christ is but a vanity without it.

5. The immortality of human souls plainly discovers it.


1. Are believers immediately with God after their dissolution? Then how surprisingly glorious will heaven be to believers! Not that they are in it before they think of it or are fitted for it; no, they have spent many thoughts upon it before, and been long preparing for it; but the suddenness and greatness of the change is amazing to our thoughts. Who can tell what sights, what apprehensions, what thoughts, what frames believing souls have before the bodies they left are removed from the eyes of their dear surviving friends?

2. Are believers immediately with God after their dissolution? Where, then, shall unbelievers be, and in what state will they find themselves immediately after death hath closed their eyes? Ah! what will the case of them be that go the other way! To be plucked out of house and body, from among friends and comforts, and thrust into endless miseries into the dark vault of hell; never to see the light of this world any more; never to see a comfortable sight; never to hear a joyful sound; never to know the meaning of rest, peace, or delight any more. O what a change is here!

3. How little cause have they to fear death, who shall be with God so soon after their death!

III. GOD MAY, THOUGH HE SELDOM DOES, PREPARE MEN FOR GLORY IMMEDIATELY BEFORE THEIR DISSOLUTION BY DEATH. Many, I know, have hardened themselves in ways of sin, by this example of mercy. But what God did at this time, for this man, cannot be expected to be done ordinarily for us: and the reasons thereof are — Reason

1. Because God hath vouchsafed us the ordinary and standing means of grace which this sinner had not; and therefore we cannot expect such extraordinary and unusual conversions as he had.

2. Such a conversion as this may not be ordinarily expected by any man, because such a time as that will never come again. It is possible, if Christ were to die again, and thou to be crucified with Him, thou mightest receive thy conversion in such a miraculous end extraordinary way; but Christ dies no more; such a day as that will never come again.

3. Such a conversion as this may not ordinarily be expected; for as such a time will never come again, so there will never be the like reason for such a conversion any more, Christ converted him upon the cross, to give an instance of His Divine power at that time, when it was almost wholly clouded.

4. None hath reason to expect the like conversion that enjoys the ordinary means; because, though in this convert we have a pattern of what free grace can do, yet as divines pertinently observe, it is a pattern without a promise; God hath not added any promise to it that ever He will do so for any other; and where we have not a promise to encourage our hope, our hope can signify but little to us.Inference

1. Let those that have found mercy in the evening of their life admire the extraordinary grace that therein hath appeared to them. O that ever God should accept the bran, when Satan hath had the flour of thy days I

2. Let this convince and startle such as, even in their grey hairs, remain in an unconverted state.

3. Let this be a call and caution to all young ones to begin with God betime, and take heed of delays till the last, so as many thousands have done before them to their eternal ruin.

1. O set to the business of religion now, because this is the moulding age.

2. Now, because this is the freest part of your time. It is in the morning of your life, as in the morning of the day. If a man have any business to he done, let him take the morning for it; for in the after part of the day a hurry of business comes on, so that you either forget it or want opportunity for it.

3. Now, because your life is immediately uncertain.

4. Now, because God will not spare you because you are but young sinners, little sinners, if you die Christless.

5. Now, because your life will be the more eminently useful and serviceable to God when you know Him betime, and begin with Him early.

6. Now, because your life will be the sweeter to you when the morning of it is dedicated to the Lord.

(J. Flavel.)

This is the only occasion during the days of His flesh on which (so far at least as we know) paradise was made mention of by our Lord. Once, too, He mentions it in His glory (Revelation 2:7), and once it is on the lips of His chief apostle (2 Corinthians 12:4). These are the only times that it occurs in the New Testament. Hanging on the accursed tree, His thoughts may well have travelled back to another tree, even the tree of life, standing in the paradise of God: in that paradise, which by all this sore agony He was at this instant winning back for the children of men — opening for them the gates of another paradise.

(Archbishop Trench.)

I. There is a reference to PLACE. "Thou shalt be in paradise." The royal garden of an Oriental palace was called a paradise. The word suggests the ideas of abundance, security, beauty, and delight. Paradise has been regained by Christ — a better paradise than our first parents ever knew; for the serpent shall never creep into it, the tempter's trail shall never pollute it, Satan shall not approach it nor taint its purity by his poisonous breath. There flows the river of the water of life, issuing clear as crystal from the throne of God and of the Lamb. There grows the tree which bears twelve manner of fruits, and whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. No law forbids those who enter there to pluck and eat. No sword of the cherubim turns every way to debar access. There the rose is without a thorn.

II. The gracious answer of Christ referred to COMPANY as well as place. "Thou shalt be with Me." The dying thief might have had doubts as to the meaning of the word "paradise." Where is it? What are its occupations and its joys? Who will be my companions? But, to prevent all painful perplexity, our Lord, in addition to the promise of paradise, added that of Himself — "Thou shalt be with Me." To be with Christ is represented throughout the New Testament as the climax of the believer's hope. Jesus said, as the greatest reward He could offer — "Where I am, there shall also My servant be." He consoled His disciples with the assurance, "I will come again, and take you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." He interceded on their behalf, saying — "Father, I will that they whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am." Stephen's hope in death was expressed in the prayer" Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." St. Paul said he was in a strait betwixt two, "having a desire to depart, and be with Christ, which is far better." And Jesus promised this to the dying thief — "Thou shalt be with Me." The promise of being with Christ includes perfect pardon, perfect purity, and perfect bliss. The father of the preacher, now, for some years, in the presence of that Sinner's Friend whom he so loved to publish, used to tell of a soldier he well knew, who, in reward for character and long services, received from the commander-in-chief a captain's commission. But he did not feel comfortable in his rank, for he fancied he was looked down upon by his new companions on account of his origin. There can be nothing more vulgar than to treat with dishonour those who have risen to a higher station. It needs no brains to possess money acquired by one's ancestors, and rank attained by birth is not necessarily allied to genius, virtue, or achievements. To affect to despise those who, by rising from a humble origin, prove that they have merit as well as rank, is a mark of a mean and little mind. We will hope the soldier was mistaken, for British officers are gentlemen. But he felt uncomfortable, and asked to be restored to his former position. The commander-in-chief, guessing the reason, ordered a grand parade at the garrison, then, calling him by his title, walked up and down with him in familiar conversation. After this he no longer imagined that he was regarded with disfavour by his new associates. If we may compare the poor paltry distinctions of earth with those of heaven, this is what Jesus did to the dying thief. He said — "Thou shalt be with Me." I will welcome thee at the threshold; I will lead thee by the hand into the palace; I will introduce thee to its glorious inhabitants, the angels and the spirits of just men made perfect; thou shalt be with Me.

III. Our Lord's reply related to TIME. "To-day.''

1. This proves the continued conscious existence of the soul after death. Surely if the dying thief had been about to fall into a deep sleep for hundreds or thousands of years the promise of being that day in paradise with Jesus would have been inappropriate and delusive.

2. We also learn that the soul of a believer is at death fitted to be at once with Jesus. There: must have been plenary and immediate absolution for the penitent thief. If on that very day with Jesus, on that very day fit to be with Him, and therefore purified from all sin.(1) But is it just that a man who has lived in wickedness should, on repentance, be taken at once to paradise, as though he had never sinned? This would indeed be a difficulty were it not that Jesus died for sinners. A crucified Christ solves the mystery. Because His perfect obedience and atoning death satisfied the claims of law, those who trust in Him are delivered from the condemnation of that law. "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities."(2) But apart from considerations of justice, is it suitable and tit that a man who has all his life been a wilful transgressor, should, on repentance, go to dwell with Jesus? Certainly, if lie is no longer what he was. Consider. You have a ship about to sail with a valuable cargo; but she cannot leave the harbour till the title turns. Presently she swings round with the altered current. Now weigh anchor and set sail! If some one were to say "No, not yet, you are too hasty, the tide has only just turned," would you not despise the folly of such an objection? And in this dying thief the stream of his soul, which had been running down to death, had turned and was now flowing up to life, and why should not he take it at the tide and with it enter heaven?

3. We learn that earth is very near to heaven. "How glorious the hope — there may be but a step between me and paradise!"(1) Let us then be patient in affliction. Are we repining because of trials, murmuring at some difficult duty, some painful sacrifice? What? when angels and departed friends may be weaving our chaplet of victory, tuning our golden harp of praise, and gathering round the threshold to bid us welcome! Shall we give way to impatience, when this very day we may be in paradise?(2) Let this nearness make us steadfast in resisting temptation. Shall we give up the fight when on the point of winning the victory? Shall we turn back in the journey when round the rock just before us we may be within sight of home?

(Newman Hall, LL. B.)

I. THERE IS GROUND OF HOPE FOR TREMBLING SINNERS. And we may learn from this instance these following lessons.

1. They may go long on, and far on in the way to hell, whom yet God may bring home to Himself. Here is a man, a thief, whose course brought him to an ill end, to a violent death, and yet grace reaches him.

2. Grace sometimes catches them that in appearance, and to the eyes of the world, are farthest from it.

3. Grace makes a vast difference betwixt those in whom it finds none.

4. While there is life there is hope.(1) Let those that seek God early be encouraged from this, that they shall find Him (Proverbs 8:17).(2) Let not those whose day is almost gone, before they have begun their work, despair.(3) Let us sow beside all waters, in the morning and in the evening.


1. It is a most rare example.(1) As one swallow makes not spring, so neither can this one event make a general rule that you or I may trust to.(2) Are there not eminent instances to the contrary, wherein men living in their sin have been struck down in a moment, getting no time to repent of them, but fiery wrath has put an end to their days? Consider the case of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1, 2), of whom it is thought they had erred through drink (ver. 9); Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (Numbers 16:31), etc.; Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5.), who died instantly with a lie in their mouth. But why do I instance in particular persons? Did not millions die together in their sins, by the deluge that swept away the old world, the fire and brimstone that burned up Sodom, Gomorrha, Admah, and Zeboim?(3) The most that this so rare an example can amount to is a possibility. It is not to so much as a probability or likelihood.

2. Though there were two thieves on the cross at that time, yet it was but one of them that got grace to repent.(1) Is it not possible that thou mayest die blaspheming ii thou do not repent now in time?(2) It is at least an equal venture, that thou mayest die impenitent, as that thou mayest die a penitent.(3) It is inconsistent with common sense, to leave that thing to a venture, which may be made sure, where a hit or a miss is of the utmost concern.(4) Nay, but the venture is very unequal; for it is far more likely that delaying thou mayest die impenitent, than that thou mayest die penitent. Few took part with the good thief amongst all the crowd of spectators; the multitude went the other thief's way, mocking (ver 35).

3. There is no evidence that this thief had before such means of grace as you have.

4. This thief was converted, when by the hand of public justice he was to die. He was cut off perhaps in the midst of his days; at least he died not by the course of nature, nor by any sickness, but was executed for his evil deeds.

5. The conversion of the thief on the cross was an extraordinary manifestation of our Lord's power, made for special reasons. And therefore though it shows what the Lord can do; it does not show what ordinarily He will do. Consider here, to evince this, that —(1) It was done in such a juncture of time, as the like never was, and the like never will be again; namely, when the Lord of glory, the Saviour of the world, was actually hanging upon the cross, paying the ransom for the lost elect world (Romans 6:9).(2) It was a wonder wrought in a time allotted in a particular manner beyond all times, for God's working wonders.

6. The penitent thief on the cross was not only sincere, but he glorified Christ more in his late repentance, than thou art capable to do by thine, nay more than if thou hadst lived a penitent all thy days.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

A man must be able to show that when stretched on a death-bed, he shall be in the same moral position as the thief when nailed to the cross. It is clear that nothing can be more unwarranted than his arguing from the certainty of the thief repenting, to the likelihood of himself repenting; and we are confident that you cannot possibly, when your death-bed draws nigh, stand morally in the same position, and hear the gospel for the first time on your death-bed. Yet this in all probability was the case with the thief. The man who professedly puts off repentance, must necessarily smother conviction; he will therefore carry with him to his death-bed a seared and a blunted conscience; he will have refused Christ fifty, or a hundred, or a thousand times; he will have grieved the Spirit, and possibly have quenched it by his obstinate resolve to defer what he had been made to feel essential; whereas, in all probability, the thief had never determined to put off repentance; he had never resisted the Spirit; he had never heard the gospel; he had never rejected Christ. And will any one dare to think, that with all this difference between himself and the malefactor, he can be warranted in so identifying the cases as to consider the last hour of life well-fitted for the work of repentance, or to bolster himself up with the flattering persuasion, that what happened to the dying thief will happen also to him — that just as life ebbs away there shall flow in upon one who has despised a thousand warnings and steeled his heart by long despite to the Spirit of God, all that glorious tide of faith and of assurance which rolled into the soul of a long-lost prodigal, who had never before been invited home, never heard the wonderful announcement, that those condemned justly at a human tribunal, might still find acquittal at a Divine, and who still, in this, his last extremity, having shown an unprecedented faith by giving utterance to the prayer — "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom," was sustained by those gracious words of the Redeemer — "Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with Me in paradise." We are as clear as upon a Scriptural truth, that the only man who can think of repenting on a death-bed is the man who never stood by a death-bed. It is want of acquaintance with the frightful power with which bodily disease assails the strongest mind — it is this only that will lead men to harbour the idea that such stupendous things as the things of eternity may be fairly grappled with in a fever or a consumption. We do not say sickness throws a man beyond the limits within which repentance is possible; but we do say that in sickness there is commonly such a prostration of mind — the mind so sympathizes with the body, or rather is so swallowed up in it, that the probability is almost as an infinity to a unit, that he who has neglected God in health will be unable to seek Him under the pressure of disease. And from all this mental overthrow the dying thief was exempt. Tell me, then, is it quite right to think, that amid the emaciation of your last sickness you shall have power and collectedness of soul for this amazing prayer — "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom"? And what right have you to hope that you shall be soothed by the gracious words, "To-day... paradise"?

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

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