17 – Jesus Forgives a Dying Thief

Luke 23:32–33, 39–43

32 The soldiers also took two other men out of the prison. These men had done bad things. The soldiers would kill them and Jesus together. 33 They took them to the place that is called ‘The Skull’. There they fixed Jesus to a cross to die. They also fixed the two bad men to crosses. One of these men was on the right side of Jesus. The other was on his left side.

Luke 23:32-33 EasyEnglish Bible (EASY)

39 One of the bad men on a cross at the side of Jesus started to insult him. He shouted, ‘You say that you are the Messiah, don't you? Then save your own life and save our lives too!’

40 But the bad man on the other cross told him that he should be quiet. He said, ‘You should be more afraid of God. We will die here, as well as him. 41 We two men have done very bad things. So it is right that we should die. But this man has not done anything wrong.’ 42 Then the man said to Jesus, ‘Remember me, Jesus, when you start to rule in your kingdom.’ 43 Jesus replied, ‘I promise you, today you will be with me in paradise.’

Luke 23:39-43 EasyEnglish Bible (EASY)

Did you Know?

  • The hill on which Jesus died was called ‘The Skull’ because it looked like a human head.
  • The criminals who died with Jesus were probably terrorists.
  • Many people laughed at Jesus while he was dying.
  • People who have obeyed God and trusted Jesus go to ‘Paradise’ after they’ve died.

The Meaning of the Story

Many people watched Jesus die. Some of his friends were there. Some of those who hated him, like the Pharisees, were there. Two criminals died with him. One of them insulted Jesus.

The other criminal did not laugh at Jesus. Look at the three important things this man said to Jesus.

First, he admitted he was a sinner. He knew he had broken man’s laws and God’s laws.

Second, he believed that Jesus was the king and saviour. This man had lived a very bad life, but he knew that it is never too late to come to Jesus and say you are sorry.

Third, he believed in life after death. He believed God’s kingdom went on forever. He trusted Jesus to remember him and to receive him into paradise.

Although the criminal was about to die, Jesus promised him a place in God’s heavenly kingdom. In this kingdom, there will be no more sin, or sickness and death, or sorrow and pain.

Who is Jesus?

On the cross, Jesus meets a man who is very close to dying. He did not need physical healing, but he needed spiritual healing. Jesus promised him that, after his death, he would live forever. We can be sure that this man entered paradise because he trusted in the promise of Jesus.

Thinking about the Story

  1. What do you think it means to fear God?
  2. Why do you think the first criminal did not fear God?
  3. Why does the second criminal believe that Jesus has a kingdom of power?
  4. Is it ever too late in life to ask Jesus to be your friend?