Two Reactions to Grace Incarnate

This story has always amazed me:
Now there was also an inscription above Him, "THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS." One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? "And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:38-43)
I wonder what caused one thief to act so differently from the other? I wonder why Jesus didn’t tell them both that they would be with Him in Paradise? Answers to these questions depend on your view of man and your view of grace. Both of these thieves observed Grace Incarnate. Each had an opportunity to bow their hearts to Grace but only one bowed. This begs the question:
Will such a one as the thief that rejected grace accept grace after they die?
The typical arguement, from an Ultimate Grace perspective, is that somehow we become someone different after we die and we then bow to grace. This view tends to paint the problem as one of information - if we have more information we will act differently. No doubt this is a valid arguement in many cases. I guess that I take issue with this because this view affirms the goodness of man and purports that our problem is one of the head (information) and not the heart (humility).

Incarnate Grace confronted both thieves. Each saw Jesus forgive those that hammered the nails yet each had a different reaction to Grace Incarnate. Was it an issue of information or something else? Why do people act differently when they are confronted with Incarnate Grace?


  1. did Jeus say to the other one that today you shall be in hell? Why then do people assume that is the case?


  2. Good point Geo! Still doesn't answer the question of why people act different when they are confronted with Incarnate Grace and if the problem is information.

  3. I imagine that the two theives had different hearts. Hanging there as thieves they appeared equal on the outside but one had a hard heart and the other a prideful heart.

    The one with the hard heart (from a life of hardship maybe) his heart BROKE when he saw Incarnate Grace.

    The one with the prideful heart may have wanted to accept Grace as well, but his pride was stronger.

    (I just made this up it may be off base but I figured I better write it since it popped in my head)

  4. I am assuming it may have been a faith issue between the two thieves. Im sure one believed and the other didnt. If you dont believe in life after death then why have faith in christ. however the one thief on the cross who spoke to christ seemed to believe. you never know..the bible does not say but that thief may have witnessed one of christ's many many mircales in a small village long before the year of crucifixtion.

  5. To my Wesleyan self, this story says a lot about the resistability of God's grace. It's there, but we have the free will to say no.


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