instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, April 06, 2009

"Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise."

Generally speaking, it's a good idea to avoid psychological analyses of the people you meet in the Bible. If the reason why someone does something is part of what God wants to reveal, then the reason is usually given more or less explicitly. If the reason isn't given, it's not likely to be the key through which to interpret the passage.

For me, the good thief is a real test of that general principle. Why did he say to Jesus, "Remember me when you come into your kingdom"? Was he being kind to a lunatic? Had he heard of Jesus beforehand? Was he acting on a contrarian impulse? Did he look in Jesus' eyes and see divinity? Was he betting on a long shot?

No, the principle holds here too. The thief's motivation is not the key through which to interpret the passage. The key, of course, is Jesus' response.

It is the response of the Son of Man in His glory, and all the angels with Him, as He sits upon His glorious throne. "Come, you who are blessed by my Father," Jesus tells the thief. "Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

And surely no righteous one on the Last Day will be as surprised as Dismas the thief was to find himself in Paradise.