A Short Study of Luke 23:42

“Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”
(Luke 23:42)

The dying thief that called upon the Lord Jesus Christ in his last moments exhibited that one evidence of the new birth – God-given faith – faith in Christ alone! He looked to a man who not only appeared outwardly as one like himself but who also in that hour was hanging on a cross, hands and feet nailed to it and dying like himself. A man rejected and scorned by all around him including the other thief. A man mocked especially as a king, crowned with a crown of thorns, a reed scepter and scarlet robe. To this Man, the Man Christ Jesus, in spite of all these things, he pleads, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)

There is spiritual recognition of Christ as He is, the King of kings! He knows now that Christ is the Lord. He sees Christ for what He is by faith because Christ has revealed Himself to him. In the darkest hours, when there is no other hope and he obviously is nothing and can do nothing. He has no other evidence that he is a true believer. No other evidence that he is an object of the electing grace of God, that he is one of God’s beloved children. Yet he is enabled of God to manifest the faith of God’s elect – CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST! He says, “remember me WHEN you come into your kingdom.” There is no “if” or other possibilities. It is WHEN! You are dying but you shall rise again and successfully have accomplished all that you purposed to accomplish in death, “perform the MERCY” promised. You will be victorious in all that you do and will rise again and be glorified as the KING over your kingdom. Oh, he cries, “Remember ME” when you do! This is the cry and confidence of faith. We do not find assurance anywhere else in anything else but Christ and His successfully finished work. We believe that Christ did not fail in the work of salvation and we look to Him alone for mercy. God’s elect, like this thief, find no one else to go to – “Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:67-69)

Faith is marked by confidence that Christ has finished the work of righteousness and we do not look anywhere else for evidence. We believe and are sure that He is the Christ! If we seek evidence in anything else, we do not have faith.

The thief on the cross cried out to Christ in his dying hour saying, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” (Luke 23:42) This man had just confessed himself as “justly” condemned and now confesses Christ to be the Lord who would rise from the dead having a kingdom. As such, Christ was the sovereign Dispenser of the mercy for which he now called out. But how can God “remember” such a sinner as this thief or any sinner? When Israel had done such as merited their total destruction before God, it says in scripture that the “LORD remembered his covenant.” He remembered and had “respect” toward His covenant. The same is true when God saves all His people, it is because of the covenant. He remembers that His covenant is a covenant of grace with nothing whatsoever dependent upon the actions or lack of actions on the part of those He included in the covenant. It is all of His grace. He remembers that it is an “everlasting covenant.” No event, circumstance or situation can nullify this covenant because every detail has long been attended to. “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.” (Isaiah 54:10) It is a covenant of perfect peace and sure mercy. “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” (Isaiah 55:3) It cannot be altered by the law for it was before the law, it honors the law and it satisfies the claims of the law. God remembers His Son who is “a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec” and therefore the “surety” of this better covenant. When God “brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep,” He brought life to all the sheep in Him! The sacrificial blood of Christ that He poured out in His death is the “blood of the everlasting covenant.” (Hebrews 13:20) Whether a thief or a dying king such as David, this is our hope “he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire …” (2nd Samuel 23:5) LORD, remember us, remember your everlasting covenant, remember Christ who is the Covenant! (Isaiah 42:1-7)

G. Shepard

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