Robert Griffith | 26 February 2023
Robert Griffith
26 February 2023


Luke 23:42-43  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

How does this interaction between Jesus and the thief on the cross next to Him fit into your theology? How does the criminal’s experience of God fit the gospel you believe and preach? From my experience, 80% of what I have seen and heard as ‘the gospel’ is completely obliterated by this one brief encounter.

The institutional church has gone to incredible lengths over hundreds of years now to create a very long list of qualifications or pre-requisites which people must tick off before they can legitimately say they are a disciple of Jesus and heaven-bound.

But what about this thief? What religious boxes did he tick?

No baptism, no communion, no confirmation, no speaking in tongues, no mission trip, no volunteerism, no financial gifts, and no church clothes. He couldn’t even bend his knees to pray. He didn’t ‘pray the sinner’s prayer’ and among other things, he was a convicted criminal. Jesus didn’t take away his pain, heal his body, or smite his scoffers.

Yet, it was a thief who walked into paradise the same hour as Jesus – simply by believing. He had nothing more to offer other than his belief that Jesus was who He said He was.

No spin from brilliant theologians. No ego or arrogance. No shiny lights, skinny jeans, or crafty words. No smoke machine, donuts, or coffee in the lobby.

Just a naked, dying man on a cross unable to even fold his hands to pray.

Now that is the Gospel. That is the Good News. That is what the Church should be preaching, living and breathing!

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that WHOEVER believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

Acts 16:29-31  “The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”

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